Musings from the Merse
Saturday, March 31, 2007

Originally uploaded by sheffdave.
The site of the new Second Chamber?

See post below
Second House, second home

Now that we are to have a new House of Lords-sooner or later-it has been suggested that the second chamber of the UK parliament be situated away from London. One idea is Birmingham or indeed Blackpool as a consolation for not getting the super Casino.

Hutton Think Tank who originally suggested an upgraded Hutton village hall for what might be called a House of Lairds, in the local idiom, have now opted for Berwick upon Tweed. You will remember that Berwick was once proposed as an alternative capital being in a sort of no mans land between England and Scotland(this in the assumption that Scots are not going to do something really stupid like seeking independence)Berwick with its history of a separate status, excellent rail links, well developed infrastructure including three wonderful bridges, an excellent and under used port, more caravan sites than you could shake a stick at, and the real prospect of a Tesco's just down the road has all the attributes to offer the reformed House of Lords-or House of Top Persons as it will more politically correctly called-a viable and comfortable home. And symbolically it would represent the beating heart of government amongst real people away from the hothouse of the Westminster village.

And a bonus: very convenient for Lord Paxton-in-waiting. And he can live at home with no additional cost to the taxpayer.

An appropriate building?

The Maltings of course. Give it a worthwhile and cost efficient new lease of life. The theatre would make a very pleasant second chamber; ample parking and within walking distance of at least one public toilet in addition to the facilities already on site.

Go for it
Friday, March 30, 2007
Suddenly, out of the blue, Huttonian is an expert on Iran;

Go to http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/topstories/tm_headline=quiet-effort-is-only-way-to-end-it--%26method=full%26objectid=18831151%26siteid=89520-name_page.html

and you will see what I mean. Actually it is misleading byline. I did not write anything but the short snappy portentous (as one bloggee put it)one sentence paragraphs is a synthesis of about four conversations on the phone with three different Mirror journalists. Tabloid speak is quite an art and it would save alot of time if our politicians could model their speeches on this technique;

My Friends

I have come

to bury

Tony Blair

Not to praise him

His legacy Speaks for itself

Don't it?

I am also on Radio 5 live at 12 noon. Make a note.

My on the ground expertise is somewhat out of date.

But I did work in the gulf for 7 years between 1981 and 1990.

Including being Our Man in Kuwait.

And sadly, little seems to have changed for the good since then.

Especially in the many, somewhat confusing, corridors of power in Tehran

Where the Mullahs and the Mavericks jostle to call the shots

(see, its quite easy when you know how)
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Planning Berwickshire style: Planning Pain

It sometimes seems to Huttonian that the Planning system is aimed to help the big battalions and punish the poor old foot soldier. Here we have a farmer, thinking about his retirement and would like to build himself a house for this purpose on his own land, presumably against the time he sells or otherwise disposes of his farm as a going concern; the new owner will certainly like a farm house on his new property.Simple matter you would think to get planning permission. After all this is not a major development project involving new roads and lots of new buildings concreting over the countryside. Just a retirement home.

The bloke in question, according to the SBC planning site has just received the following letter-extract as follows

The Planning Department has recently received consultation responses on the above application. The Director of Technical Services (Roads) has expressed concern relating to the visibility of vehicles turning into the plot. I enclosed a copy of his reply for your information.

The Planning Department has been instructed recently that it is to seek developer contributions in relation to education provision in Berwickshire. I have consulted the Councils Director of Education and Lifelong Learning and he has informed me that in this instance the contribution required would be:

- 1 x £3,940 for Berwickshire High School: £3,940

The process can again be formally concluded through a Section 69 or Section 75 Agreement organised by the Councils Legal Services Department.

What on earth does this mean. What is the connection, if any between the visibility of vehicles and the support of education in Berwickshire to the tune of £3,940. And is not the link between a farmer wanting to retire on his own land and a contribution towards a school somewhat tenuous. Answer: no connection. This is Planning Gain in the jargon and it seems somewhat unfair on Johnny Borderer.If yoou find it hard to ectract hard cash from hard nosed developers, turn ordinary guys into deverlopers and rip them off. Much easier.

Huttonian's advice is to go for broke (the metaphor is hardly apt as you will see). Seek planning permission to build a whacking great road across your farm at your expense (Thats Planning Gain for you-is it not Farmer N of Fishwick?)The SBC Technical Services (roads) people will be most appreciative. In so doing avoid the dangerous turn into your proposed new site via this bypass (thankyou again say Technical Services() and get rid of a lot of traffic in the interests of public safety. Oh Whoops you have cut into a nice lot of agricultural land!. What a shame!. No good for crops anymore-seek outline planning permission for say 6 country mansions for this infill site. Sell them to well heeled stockbrokers from Embra; pay for your road and bank the profits off shore; perhaps in Lindesfarne?

And enjoy your retirement

BBC States Bleeding Obvious

I am grateful to the Norn Iron Bloggee for this link to the BBC

Northern Ireland course is 'best outside US' < http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/6505115.stm

Royal County Down has been voted one of the world's best courses
A Northern Ireland golf course has been ranked the best in the world outside the United States by an international golf magazine.
The accolade for Royal County Down comes in a golf digest publication, Planet Golf.

The magazine is a guide to the world's 100 top courses published every two years.

In a double boost for the sport and tourism in NI - the course at Royal Portrush is listed as the fourth best.

Royal County Down (PBUIC-blog ed)) edged out Scotland's famous Old Course, St Andrews to win top spot.

The Newcastle links course is one of the oldest in Ireland.

It has been praised in the past by some of the biggest names in golf.

American legend Tom Watson said of it: "Royal County Down is a pure links, in the truest sense of the word.

"It is a tremendous test of golf and the outward half especially is as fine a nine holes as I have ever played."

I wonder what US course claims to be better? And I would be surprised if any can surpass the scenic splendours of Royal County Down (PBUI) For example -image of a good golfer hitting a massive drive down the 4th. (Annesley Course which runs parallel to the Championship links) With no east wind the mountains are overpowering and distracting. The other picture is looking back off the first tee-many visiting golfers favourite view of the Mournes-behind them for the first three holes and then in their face thereafter.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
In his weekly column 'Mound Notes' our MSP comments on local authorities:

In addition, local authorities have an important role to play especially in terms of planning. Here, the Scottish Parliament has acted to simplify and streamline the planning process particularly on getting quicker decisions. As the new law is implemented, we should see significant developments leading to greater business confidence in the planning process.

Bully for the business community-but what about the local community Mr Robson?

Confidence in the planning process? The Orchard? Edington Mill? Fishwick (Farmer C and Farmer N)

Quicker decisions are fine as long as they are in the interests of local people and not just the land owners and developers looking for a quick buck.

I suggest Mr R that you have a good hard look at planning procedures in the Borders before you congratulate the Scottish Parliamentarians on speeding them up.

The Annseley Course at the Royal County Down (PBUI) is no pushover-it used to be c alled the Hen Run ( more of a comment about the distaff players rather than the quality of the course. With a brisk North East wind, as to day, the driving is a challenge-the images are of the views from the 7th and 14th tees (click to enlarge for best effect) Off line you have a choice of gorse-of which there is a lot, or thick heather mixed with long grass. I have a photo essay on the course in my flickr and an exclusive view of the ball hunting Alsastian who seemed to be out to day without his minder, Stalker (http://www.flickr.com/photos/oldgreywolf/?saved=1 )

The last image is of A Donnay 4 -a cousin of the infamous Donnay 5 -see a previous post. It looked nice and new when I found it in the middle of the first faiway but the large crack explained why it had been thrown away. I offered it to the ball finding Alsatian but it turned away with a look of disgust. It has high standards, that animal.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
When Ha'ar is no laughing matter

I hear that there is a thick ha'ar in Spittal today and not much better in Paxton and Hutton. Can't gloat. There are many reasons why the powers that be -Royal County Down Green Keepers Inc and the Neo-Con Club Committee -keep you off the golf course-snow, frosty, Monday, Walker Cup soon,inappropriate tee shirts, socks tucked into trousers but mist is not usually one of them. But today the East wind brought a magnificent day, but invisibly so-you could sense the sun out there somewhere but not in Bath Lane nor on the first tee of the RCDGC (PBUI)where visibility was about 50 metres at the most. So, course closed. Health and safety and even for the ladies, whose competition day it is. No good even limiting the entry to those who could only hit the ball 49 yards-ie most of them. As there is always some Amazonian player, coinciding a sneeze with a hefty drive taking out a green keeper 75 yards away and invisible in the fog.

And thereby hangs a tale.

The last time this happened-so it is said when a visiting group of Americans on 'do a course a day' tour arrived at Newcastle (so that must have been a Tuesday)to find the course closed and little prospect of any play with visibility not much beyond the end of the tee, never mind 50 metres. What a row broke out-we have come all the way from Mini Town, Minnesota (Pop 67) to play this great course, no second chance, lecture tour on return booked, photos syndicated coast to coast. We gotta play. Come Hell or High Water. But no good: Health and Safety, Insurance, shortage of guides, dangerous terrain, come back next year and in the meantime how about a nice cup of tea-or some thing stronger? Cup of Coffee. On the house' 'Don't give a Donald if it is on the Donald roof-we are going out. We paid up front. And we are going to get our golf. Off they went, canary coloured sweaters, loud trousers, Garish,tam-o Shanters bought in the Duty Free in Shannon Airport, state of the art equipment, millions of Titlists.

Never seen again. They say.

But sometimes in the dark winter evenings, with the fires blazing in the club house and drinkers huddled around them for their own safety, you can hear far out on the course the faint moans of lost Americans, struggling along, balls lost, them lost, hope lost. And no prospect of making it to Portrush on Wednesday. And little prospect of ever seeing again the ten bright lights of Mini Town, Minnesota (Pop, now, 52)

Of course if they had been Dutchmen it would have made a better ghost story.

But we bloggers have to work with what material we have.
Monday, March 26, 2007


Not only Hitler but Huttonian who very foolishly set out golf wards having just changed his golf bag and without checking the ball pocket.

Empty. Fortunately one pristine Donnay 5 in my pocket. One Ball! And the Royal County Down (PBUI) to face. Worse the number two course only was available for play as the Championship track is closed on Monday to allow the green keeping staff unimpeded access without being bothered by boring old golfers-this is all part of the run up to the Walker Cup. And this course demands pinpoint accuracy, a steady nerve oodles of luck, and usually a strategic reserve of at least 6 balls.

A singularity of orbs certainly concentrates the mind. As does Stalker and his ball finding Alsatian never far away, hull down on the horizon, fangs bared, tongue lolling and the dog is a bit like that too.

It was a good round and I reached the 18th tee with the Donnay alive and well and two 2s-at the 16th and 17th to savour. Only the last to survive. Great drive. Another birdie coming up? 7 iron wandered a bit and disappeared into the cavernous bunker (sand trap to the Yanks) to the left and slightly short of the green; only about 7 yards from the hole. No worries mate, my very special Wedge would have it out in a trice. A trice later it did. Out of the Bunker and on to the roof of the Ladies Club House which adjoins the last hole. Plonk, plonk and plonk again, rolled off the roof and on to the grass at the back-I could see it through the hedge. Easy to retrieve.

Suddenly a female member appeared and picked up the ball-before I could stake my claim she called out to a companion: ‘Dorothy (or names to that effect, she looked like a Dorothy) Guess what? It’s my Donnay 5. The one I lost last week on the third-that Alsatian must have found it and dropped it off here!’ ‘Giggling gasps of female amazement and congratulations all round and they disappeared into Umm Ghuraib-the Lady’s Club House, scene of strange happenings, obscure rituals and impenetrable mystery. Impenetrable being the point for a mere male.

‘Her Donnay 5 indeed! How many Donnay 5s in the known world? Probably 50 in play in Newcastle on any one day. What a chancer. And then I remembered. I had found that ball on the third, in thickish rough, last week-just beating the Alsatian by a short dripping nose. Yes it was Thursday. Ah well, you can’t win them all.

On my way, ball less, to the car I passed the woman in question strolling to the first tee-the Donnay 5 in her hand.

I needed to clear one thing up: ‘Was it Thursday?’ I asked.

She stopped. Her short blonde hair glistened in the ha’ar. Her lovely blue eyes sparkled momentarily. Her shapely legs enhanced rather ugly Bermuda shorts. Her bosom may, or may not, have heaved. She had a lovely smile.

‘Yes’ she said

(The image is of the third green. Note Donnay 5 in foreground)
Sunday, March 25, 2007
What's in a name?

Huttonian had assumed that if the Laird assumed the title of Lord Paxton in his forthcoming ennoblement (if that is still on the cards given the activities of the Fuzz ) he would be on virgin territory, a titular trail blazer, as it were. Apparently not-someone seems to have got there before, at least in fiction. Go to:


and you will see what I mean. And the make believe Lord P, judging from the extracts of high literary merit quoted by Amazon, seems to have been a bit of a bounder.Oh Dear. A bad role model? To quote one extract: "Lord Paxton, an especially obnoxious customs official driven out by Bostonians in 1766" Not too scrupulous about financial matters?

There is of course a great divide between fiction and real life. A Victorian lady watching the actress Sarah Bernhardt in the role of Cleopatra, roaring around the stage, cursing and screaming, smashing the furniture and other props,supposedly remarked to her companion : 'How different, how very different, from the home life of our own dear Queen'

I hope that this is of some comfort to any future, real, Lord Paxton

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Saturday, March 24, 2007
  Newcastle; The rich man's Bay of Naples

Newcastle; The rich man's Bay of Naples
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Why bother to see Naples and die when you can view Newcastle and live. Blue sea, Blue sky, warm sunshine. What more do you want? Golf. Yes you have that as well
Each week the Berwickshire carries a notice regarding the applications for planning permission. This week it is at
Nothing very sensational or too controversial and I doubt if Big Jim Conundrum will lose much sleep over the weighty decisions he may be called upon to make. But one intriguing one from Manderston ('The Edwardian Country House') about 'change of use' of a stable block from Tearoom to Public House. Sad. The Borders (unlike, say, Norn Iron) does not have many good tearooms (aimed at crumblies) for a crumbly scone
or a creamy Latte.Paxton House, yes-but open only half the year. Hirsel-excellent and never seems to close and outside Berwick and in Eastern Berwickshire that is about it. And we have a number of really good pubs already-The Cross, Allanton Inn, Craw Inn, Wheatsheaf; the list is endless* (*Why stop at four then? Blog-ed) After flogging around a Stately 'ome
one surely wants a nice cup of tea, scone, butter, jam and cream (nothing too self indulgent)and a chance to take the weight of ones feet. Not a ruddy great pint and your licence lost on your way home.

Come on Big Jim. Do the decent thing. Say 'No' to the Public House. Send Edward-or rather Lord Biscuit home to think again.
Friday, March 23, 2007
  Zoe. Watching the Boys go by?

Zoe. Watching the Boys go by?
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Hoy! says the Chain Bridge bloggee-I have not seen any images of your sickingly sweet grandchildren for some time. OK You asked for it: here is a recent image of Zoe with her minder. I don't know what was passing by. Court of King Carracticus possibly
  Ardglass precise notice

Ardglass precise notice
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
The fisherman's cooperative at Ardglass Harbour.

I am going out for a little while and I may not be back for all of two minutes(In my youth I could do it in one but me old sea legs are not what they used to be)

Click on image to see what Huttonian is rabbitting on about
Planning East Lothian style-

Just one of many letters in the Berwickshire about planning permission being given for another wind farm in the Lammermuirs.

I write regarding the astonishing method by which East Lothian Council’s so-called planning committee managed to push through the extremely controversial application made by a developer to build yet another eyesore wind farm on the now turbine-saturated eastern Lammermuir Hills.
This committee astonished all those who have been following this application (including visibly, I might add, the developers themselves) when they carried out one of the biggest acts of daylight stupidity last week by deliberately disregarding the East Lothian planning officer’s two year long study into the application.
The planning officer recommended very firmly that the application to build the highly visible wind farm should be rejected on many grounds including, but not limited to, the irreversible landscape damage that will now follow and also the completely unacceptable visual impact the scheme will have on the rest of us for at least the next 25 years (when theoretically they will all be taken down, very amusing).
The planning officer’s recommendation firmly to reject the application was the product of two years of expensive (taxpayer funded) and expert input from the planning department.
At the whitewash hearing in Haddington, the chief of the planning department was quite literally left holding his head in disbelief as he registered the total disregard shown by the chairman and his allies as they chose to ignore the key professional facts.
One unbelievable matter (so far suppressed in the local and national media, but it will be interesting to see if it is recorded in the official minutes) which emerged during the meeting was that only five of the 13 members of this committee had bothered to attend the official site visit which took place five days prior to the hearing.
That means that eight of the 13 members did not attend.
In other words, in respect of East Lothian’s first ever full wind farm application which now represents a blot on the landscape that most of this part of Scotland will have to look at for the next quarter century, over 60% of the decision makers had not bothered to visit, and stand on, the very ground where this monster development is now to be located.
Am I alone in thinking that this must surely constitute one of the most offensive and outrageous neglects of duty of any planning committee in the history of planning in East Lothian?
Oldhamstocks House,

He may be right and I do not really recommend him moving south into Berwickshire in the expectation that planning issues would be considered any better.

They won't.

And with Big Jim Conundrum deputy chair of the SBC planning committee it is not likely things will improve.

Good voters of Eastern Berwickshire do your duty.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
  UFO over Berwick

UFO over Berwick
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Last week's blog included a post on a UFO seen over Berwick by a sober driver outside a closed pub in Paxton .Today's edition has a story about how other readers saw these same lights and one person sent in this image. The UFO anoraks have got quite excited by all this and a lot of theories have been put forward. But then one spoil sport produced the following explanation:

Tom Wakenshaw, operations manager at Berwick Lifeboat Station, said that rather than being a UFO, the lights were actually flares released as part of a lifeboat training exercise.
" I was very surprised when I read that people thought they saw a UFO hovering over Berwick on Monday

What a kill joy

But what he did not add (as it is classified) that the exercise is to do with the eventuality of the lifeboat being called out to rescue little green men(or women, of course) who have fallen into the sea from alien spacecraft. It could happen claims Hutton Think Tank who together with Fishwick Special Branch once arrested a little green man near Knowe's Close , just after closing time at the Cross,who claimed to be a Leprecaun following a rainbow to find a pot of gold. HTT and FSB eventually let him go and the Procurator Fiscal never pressed charges for lack of real evidence
The Pot of Gold was confiscated as being probably stolen as was the Shillelagh for being an offensive weapon.

This is Murlough House. It played a dramatic role in Huttonian's life when he was a young soldier preparing for the Suez campaign and stationed at Ballykinlar camp across Dundrum Bay from Murlough. One day when I was conducting live firing with my platoon we got the order to stop immediately as the Chatelaine of Murlough House had telephoned to say that a bullet had hit her house just missing her butler who had been making Strawberry Jam (This was the warm summer of 1956)As a young platoon commander I was in deep ordure. No one else was firing at the time and although our line of fire was into a massive sandhill and beyond it the open sea some 90 Degrees East of MH it must have been one of 'my' soldiers who had done it-and me being 2/LT ic platoon-I was entirely responsible in army logic of that time

I was hauled in front of a court of enquiry (leading to a court martial if I was found to be responsible) and in the absence of any other factors it looked black for this military rising star.Cashiered-ie dismissed the military would have been the likely outcome for an officer' 'incapable of controlling his men and unsuitable for holding the Queens Commission' Or words to that effect. Miraculously one of the Court was not happy with the idea of bullets flying off at 90 degrees over a very high sand dune, then finding its way through 50 yards of thick trees and then done a sharp drop into the Marchioness's semi basement kitchen. So he carried out his own investigation and found two interesting things:one-the bullet embedded in the kitchen wall was a .22 and not an army standard .303: two: from the hole in the window and lining it up with the bullet in the wall it was clear that the round had been fired from the garden. At point blank range. Huttonian or any one under his command clearly not the culprit

It transpired that the Good Lady or some one under her control, anxious to get rid of the licentous soldiery and their irritating noises off had indeed done the deed. Much later a couple of drunken Jocks from a Scottish regiment fired a machine gun through her front door-just for 'a wee bit of fun'

She sold the house to the Church of Ireland for a rest home for traumatised clergy and it is now the seat of a way out sect. Apparently

The other image is of the firing control centre just across the mouth of the bay. Here you are supposed to take care during live firing indicated by, er, sounds of shots, and the flying of red flags. I don't know how you are supposed to do that-like taking your hat off at the sign which says 'Beware Low Flying Aircraft'

Me, if I hear a loud bang.

I duck.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Its about -1C. No wind. No sun. The stalker and his big dog are getting out of the shower, donning warm clothes in the case of the stalker, looking for the Tesco Bag for Life(in the case of the Alsatian) They have a rendezvous with destiny-the rough to the right of the 12th fairway where they have every expectation of finding my slightly sliced drive next to that gorse bush, behind that bunker-getting there before I can. Fore! I will shout to scare them off- 'Its only one' they will mock back scuttling away with my nearly new Dunlop-scuttling to the safety of their new brash bungalow built on the proceeds of organised crime.

But I have a cunning plan.

I will use my very very old cracked, wrinkled and distorted Top Flight,

And I will hook it.

Deep into the gorse. And leave them to it. At least that way they will get an extra prick or two.

And throw away their find with disgust.

Have a really good day.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Standing on the 10th tee with snow covered Mournes behind me and fearsome sand mountains ahead I realised that Duns (MPBUI) was really no match for the Royal County Down (PBUI) And today with a fearsome northern wind but bright sunshine RCD really has no match anywhere-except apparently Augusta rated No 1 in the World and here second. Despite the cold the course was open but the greenkeepers still abed, sensibly enough at 0820.

Not abed was stalker and his ball retrieveing Alsatian. Working their way through the gorse bushes to the right of the 6th on the Annesley Course (aka The Hen Run) I had avoided it as it was already swarming with the distaff lot hacking and coughing their way around a few holes on Ladies Day-The Masochistic Foursomes or some such. Stalker knew he was on to a good thing as these Amazonian hordes bore down on him leaving a trail of unreplaced divots and sliced Titlelists. He had just found a pristine couple of balls as I passed -I commented 'Gosh balls will be frozen' (he was lovingly fingering them with ungloved hands).

'Nothing that a warm bath won't cure' he replied.

I hope the Alsatian gets in as well

(The image is the 11th looking back. Where is the snow? Taken last year so you will just have to take my word for it)
Monday, March 19, 2007

snow Mournes and Gorse
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Gorse (Whins) in front, Tollymore forest in the middle and Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh behind

snowy Mournes from Bryansford
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Snow clouds clearing from Bernagh and Meelmore. But only a temporary respite. Windy. Wind chill -6c and falling
  Snow Mournes: More coming

Snow Mournes: More coming
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Last night's snow was so dry and the wind so strong that the Mournes escaped with a relatively small amount lying on the slopes. This view is from the Bryansford Hilltown road looking towards Slieve Bernagh. More snow is on its way
Piss Process

It is a given (as academics would say) that the peace Process is at an advanced stage in Norn Iron but old nasty habits and ingrained attituders still take a long time in dying:

An army helicopter crashed near Crossmaglen,in South Armagh, one of the major hot spots of the 'Troubles' Everyone on board-all soldiers- were injured, some seriously.
The BBC reports:

The police said that ambulance crews removing the casualties from the scene came under attack by local youths throwing stones, fireworks and snowballs.

Similar attacks were made on police officers on the ground. There are no reports of any casualties

Charming. What nice citizens of this peace loving province we do have to be sure.

Sympathy for the injured? Oh no it was their fault, As the well known partners in peace Sinn Fein put it;

Local Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy said the crash had happened near a densely populated area.

Had it happened in a nice bit of bog he would have sent flowers and a get well soon card. And at least we would have been spared the mindless yobs and other riff raff attacking the rescue services.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
  snow -newcastle: more coming

snow newcastle more coming
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Relax says the rainbow-its over. But its not. Blizzards on their way and for once I believe that the smart suits at the BBC Blether Centre have got it right. Anyhow it is too cold for golf and the Royal County Down (PBUI), mindful of the coming Walker Cup is all closed down to protect the course from Jack Frost and the rest of his four ball.
  snow :Bath Lane

snow :Bath Lane
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
The last time we had snow in Bath Lane was about 5 years ago when the Wife had to bring Mr P and his mother from the internationl airport in a blizzard. Next morning the car was completely buried in a drift-5o yards from the sea
Saturday, March 17, 2007

Belfast 219_1992
Originally uploaded by normko.
And this is the HSS Stena Line coming into Belfast. Despite the revels advertised on board to mark both Red Nose Day and St Paddy's Day it was deathly quiet, No Guinness being quaffed, no Leprecauns evident and not a pile of vomit anywhere.

Out of the Merse and into Norn Iron. Left in drizzle arrived in drizzle. Its dreich here as well. And this is not an image of the Mournes we could see today. Despite the £15 special St Patrick's day fare on Stena it was as empty as the 1835 GNER Embra to Newcastle (England) express an d Newcastle (Norn Iron) despite being a Saturday evening-chips, beer and vomit was pretty deserted as well. Storm and snow forecast for tomorrow. And Wales beat England at Rugby. What will be the third disaster?
Friday, March 16, 2007

Premature Ejaculation

is I fear what is happening in the Old Manse pond. Les frogs have not been listening to the BBC weather warnings about the coming cold snap. There are about 40 of them in the pond as I post, having it off in a variety of unlikely positions and having shot their load,as it were, are cruising around admiring the results. What is displayed here is only a small fraction of the sago effect which will prevail by lights out tonight. It is odd that the frogs are two weeks ahead of last year's lot. Lulled into false security by the very mild March Two of the Frogs are quite talented mimics and in one image you can see them giving their imitation of Hippopotamuses, which, although good, fools few Herons
BBC are claiming a very deep freeze come this Sunday. Not good news for the offspring if they get caught in the ice. And those that don't get frozen to death will fall prey to the diving beetles.
Tough being frog spawn nowadays.

Tomorrow the blog is off on its first 07 visit to Norn Iron. So brace yourselves for a fresh round of golfing scenes and yet more views of the Mountains of Mourne. Golf may actually be minimal as the BBC Blether Centre is threatening us with a 'Cold Snap' which they hope will mean blizzards, frigid Artic conditions, lots of dead Daffodils, frozen Frog Spawn (by a timely appearance, pond side yesterday, I prevented a lot of premature ejaculation by Les Frogs) and general misery. The Royal County Down Golf Club (PBUI) will be hosting the Walker Cup in September so is being over protective of the links-any sign of frost, a flake of snow or a small earthquake they close the course in a flash.

Forunately we are not travelling today as Stena Line is given over to Red Nose Day, but tomorrow could be worse as there is a £15 special offer to go to Belfast for St Patrick's Day. I hope by the time we take to the sea at 1445 the would be revellers will have gone ahead and stuck into their third pints.

But I would not count on it.

Given a choice I would go with the Red Noses rather than the Green vomit.
Thursday, March 15, 2007

Did anyone else see UFO spotted by family in Car? Asks the Berwickshire on its front page today. A driver in Paxton, last Monday (and yes the Cross Inn was closed) his wife and their 17 year old grandson both saw five lights hanging in the air above Berwick at about 7-30 pm. 'They were like the kind of yellow lights you see on the Motorway but they were very big. They weren't high in the sky and were sitting just above Berwick' They disappeared after 30 seconds. The unnamed driver claimed that he was not 'prone to exaggeration' and is anxious to know if any one else saw the phenomenon.

Five lights over Berwick? No shepherds have yet come forward to claim these stars in the East. Nor have manger owners contacted the media. 5 stars-multiple birth perhaps and three wise men would need to top up in Morrisons en route to the scene. (Buy one Myrrh get one free?) One report to Fishwick Special Branch of a large family of 'Middle Eastern appearance' in the 'Hutton Castle Barns' vicinity is yet to be authenticated and a claim by a Co-op spokesman of unprecedented run on swaddling clothes may prove to be a misunderstanding.

Ideas on Twenty Pound notes please to the HTT dead letter box.

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Getting a Lung full

'Ah! You can tell you are in the country'
The lady from the south,
Looking at the wide fields, the gaunt trees,
Spring released cows, nary a house
in sight.
'How astute'
I thought

Flinging open the door, she gulped
lush lungfulls of rural air,
greedily, as if there was no
tomorrow. Choking, gasping, spluttering,
racking, near vomiting.
'How Stupid'
I thought

'There's something to be said
for traffic fumes' She
gasped. Still snuffling.
Failing to make that neat transition

From Stockbroking Surrey
To Muck raking Slurry

(From " Country Air-An occasional collection for Wet Sundays" Attrib: Prof Pink Pryde)-
*The image is genuine Slurry which missed its intended field by a good quarter of a mile. Almost more of the muck in down town Hutton than on Farmer C's field


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A masterclass in local planning methodology can be found in all its glory at http://eplanning1.scotborders.gov.uk/WAM/showCaseFile.do?appType=planning&appNumber=06/01476/OUT

This is about Fishwick. That traffic hotspot where the local laird has asked for planning permission to build six houses-outline planning permission that is. Step one is to build a new strip of road which not only bypasses the Fishwick conurbation of six or so former farm workers cottages thus removing their front doors from exposure to the constant roar of traffic and cutting out a fearsome corner used by at least twenty cars a day but also neatly slices through one of his fields thus creating a possible 'infill' site, for say, 6 houses. He needs to flog them as he is financing the road out of his own pocket and that will not be cheap.

Exhibit A The January 07 letter from the director of planning, Scottish Borders Council Mr Brian Frater. Thumbs up to the Road. No surprise there. He is getting a nice new bypass free. In the trade they call that Planning Gain. Good thing that. But oh dear for Farmer N's developmental ambitions Mr F says that 2 houses only on this site to comply with the usual regulations now re-enshrined in the Local Plan. That's real bad news for the Laird. Two houses will hardly pay for the new stretch of gleaming tarmac.

Long silence on the website but you can imagine the frantic negotiations with Farmer N and Messrs Edwin Thompson, the land agents, on the one hand and the stony faced, hard headed planning guys on the other. Come on guys be reasonable; brand new road, safety of Fishwickers ensured, dangerous corner removed; grandchildren safe to frolic on the verges and all we want in exchange is the whacking great profit that 6 house sites with outline planning permission will bring after paying for the new road. Safety and profit-there 's planning gain for you, writ large.

Exhibit B . Letter, dated February, from the agents summarising results of aforementioned wheelings and dealings. Looks like a wheeze to put all the houses together, resort like, so as to be near Fishwick itself which is in , planning speak, a 'recognised building block' But obviously this is not yet a done deal as the project was not discussed at the latest meeting of the Berwickshire Area Committee despite pleas by both Edwin and Thompson. And so far this has been dragging on for well over seven months.

If this goes through it will be an open invitation to local lairds to build nice new roads through
nice green fields, declare them unfit for farming and build like billy-oh in the nice large sites so conveniently created.

Is that the kind Planning Gain you really want, Mr Frater?
According to the fascist Times, in one of its neo-con inspired articles on a right wing approach to the environment-'Iran Nuke Research fuels Global Warming' _I may not have the title exactly right-Spring is very advanced in the UK this year with sighting of all kinds of exotica not normally seen until late March or early April. Apparently there have been 5,532 reports of frog spawn this year already. I suspect this applies more to the Home Counties than to the Borders where our pond is entirely spawn free in contrast to the massive ejaculations of this time last March*. What is odd is the group of male Robins hanging around our wood pile-usually, by now, we have a pair, cooing and billing, rather than these group of layabouts, lounging around looking for trouble. Planning a gang bang? Or just an outbreak of gaiety in the absence of enough females to go around. Perhaps we can pin this on the Iranians?

*I was quite wrong: last year the frogs did their thing in very late March : http://huttonian.blogspot.com/2006_03_01_huttonian_archive.html

Strike one for the Iranians.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Alarms on the excursions

Coming home from Embra after my last lecture this semester we graced the 1730 Glasga to Lunnon GNER as far as Berwick.Obviously. The familiar and so often repetitive 'Attention Train Crew . Disabled Passenger Alarm activated' sounded out twice before Dunbar and twice after. No one took any notice-as least amongst the crew that I could see-refreshment trolleys trundled, service of dinner called, mind the gap with your not forgotten luggage announced and disabled passenger alarms ignored. As the ticket collector opined clipping my offering:-'On the blink as bloody usual' Halfway to Berwick it sounded a fifth and rather desperate note. Life went on.

Just before a Berwick a very large and very angry man came hissing and puffing down the train. His face was red and his trousers moist in patches. He was very angry. And he was on crutches

And he meant business.

Attention Train Crew :

Disabled Passenger imminent attack alarm activated.

Take cover.


What is GNER's equivalent to the Marie Celeste or the Flying Dutchman? The 1835 from Embra to Newcastle and all stops between. The 1730 to London is heaving as is the 1900 but the 1835. A full length, two football pitches, 20 Routemaster buses, gleaming carriages, State of the art Dr Who capsuled loos. And nary a passenger! Well, I exaggerate slightly. The reserved seats were as usual crammed, hip to hip in one third of an otherwise empty carriage. And a small sprinkling of people bound for Dunbar, Berwick, Alnmouth Morpeth and Newcastle scattered through Coaches A-H. First Class Plush and empty.

A pleasure to ride in it and to wonder why it is so empty. It is meant to feed the local stops generally ignored by the mighty expresses of GNER and the thoughtful meanderings of Virgin.
Who are the 1835 people? Hutton Think Tank needs to do a socio-economic study of these few hardy souls

Hardy? Yes. The restaurant trolley never reaches them from my observation. So few the potential customers seemed to be that presumably Bert and Elspeth, Customer service managers ic Trolley rushed it down to Coach A ignoring any plaintiff cries for refreshments as they speed north. They then settled down for a good chat helping themselves to the odd cup of tea and shortbread to keep them in trim. Passed the journey pleasantly, I am sure.

For them at least.


Monday, March 12, 2007
In the steps of the Ginger Man

I am sure that when I was a student we were nothing like as good mannered and well behaved as the lot I teach at present at Embra . I certainly do not remember treating our lecturers with respect and I fear I devoted a lot of time and energy to extracting the michael as befitted the traditional Trinity College under graduate inspired by JP Donleavy and the 'Ginger Man' . Here it seems to be very different. Struggling with the hi-tech overhead projector I was assisted, spontaneously, by a very attractive young lady who seemed to grasp that, technically,I had not advanced beyond the old fashioned one-slide-at-a-time 35mm projector and saved me from the ignominy of displaying all my acetates on the ceiling.

I am not so sure however about the very self confident young man who accosted me in the department to ask a rather banal question about a forthcoming lecture. 'Where' he asked rather patronisingly' do you give your occasional little talks? 'The Archeaology Lecture Theatre' I said.

He looked me up and down and drawled in his best David Cameron manner:

'How very appropriate'
Sunday, March 11, 2007

Haste ye here with your digital

Tweed December Day
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
I mention below that there are 2220 plus images of the Scottish Borders on the whole of Flickr. But only 171 of the Merse-and of those over half are of Italy. Besides Huttonian there are only about four other photographers who took pictures of the 'Merse'-and some of those are actually in Galloway. Come on; there is great scenery around here. Like the Tweed.
  St Marys Loch

St Marys Loch
Originally uploaded by Monster..
To my pleasant surprise there are over 2200 images of the Scottish Borders on Flickr and this one by Monster is certainly a stunner. St Mary's Loch is between Selkirk and Moffat and just off the picture to the right is a cafe with great Latte and fruit scones. Huttonian and the wife hope to be stopping there en route to Norn Iron on St Patrick's Day. I suggest you look at the rest of the Monster portfolio
We belted out that great Welsh hymn with its 'Bread of Heaven' refrain loud enough to open the roof at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium-not bad with barely twenty in the congregation. As we were leaving one of the pensioners remarked '' A day late, that" And she added " Not that it would have saved the day in Rome" A certain tone of satisfaction in her voice so I thought it wise not to remind her of the score at Murrayfield yesterday.

And as for this afternoons match in Paris, veils may need to be drawn. But we could be surprised.

Astonished, actually
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Laughing all the way to the Bank

Huttonian has had his attention drawn to a novel aspect of Comic Relief-a collection of 'shaggy blog stories' -excerpts from blogs-to be put together into an anthology and sold to raise cash for deserving causes Go to http://troubled-diva.com/labels/rednoseday.html To aid this worthwhile cause Huttonian has contributed a piece from last month's saga of gaiety in Selkirk ( http://huttonian.blogspot.com/2007_02_01_huttonian_archive.html see 27th Feb) and in case this is thought not to be politically correct a sad tale of peeing into the wind in Norn Iron is a second choice. This is from the old blog of sacred memory, now off air so no url is available but if public demand is great enough a re-posting can be arranged
  Saint Cuthbert's Way

Saint Cuthbert's Way
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Hutton Think Tank's annual early spring photo competition for the first image of a daffodil within 33 miles of Hutton has been won with this picture taken on 9 March on St Cuthbert's Way near Nesbit. .Other competitions still current include a sound recording of the first cuckoo, a short video clip of frog spawn in a private pond and the first fisherman at Tweedhill fisheries. Entries via the usual dead letter box on the upper Hutton Paxton road.
Friday, March 09, 2007
  Stroking and Sniffing?

woodside nursery 005
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Stressed by the Scottish elections-and with still nearly two months to go? No worries- just go to Woodside Gardens near Harestanes. Enjoy a Latte and Coffee cake in the Organic Caff, walk around the Organic gardens and stroke and 'gently inhale'the perfume from organic plants when the sun shines. As it does and as it did. Omar Khayyam never had it so good in any of his perfumed gardens.

You'll feel much better and stop worrying about Tory councillors. Honest.
It works.

The Norn Iron bloggee, terminally bored with the ongoing elections has drawn Huttonian's attention to a sad tale of bent fairies in the Province:


It reminds me that crime in the Borders is mostly dreary sort of stuff, vandalism, drunkenness, smoking without due care and attention,picking your nose in a public place-that sort of thing; bread and butter to the Sheriff of Duns, boring to the rest of us. When we first arrived in Hutton we were proudly informed that there was no crime here and if anything happened the offender would be quickly apprehended and brought to justice. As an example we were told the uplifting tale of a vagrant who nicked a bike from a garden and rode it away. Sadly he, in a hurry, had stolen one with no gears and was quickly caught wheeling it up a hill. (What Hill? Don't know) Satisfaction all round. Now of course he would be an immigrant-vagrants are not amongst the usual suspects. Travellers aka Gypsies moved on

And there is crime in Hutton according to the Berwickshire, page 5: Hutton Vandalism. A 'small brick structure surrounding a water pump near Hutton bridge has been maliciously damaged'
Anyone near the bridge between 10am on 21 Feb and 10am on 1 March and dunnit hand your selves in to the fuzz.



Nearest Police Station : Coldstream.

But it may not be open.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Please to be Upstanding

That great local organ the Berwickshire is getting into the spirit of the hustings via its letter columns-usually the first resort of the verbosely incontinent;

SIR, - So the truth is out.The most vociferous supporter of wind farms, Councillor John Elliot of Duns, has shares in a company that provides parts for wind turbines, the Spectris Group. (Berwickshire News, Thursday, March 1).Wind turbines he says are like “moving sculptures”. But then he would say that wouldn’t he.It is also rumoured that he is considering whether to stand down at the next elections. As an honourable man I cannot see that he really has much choice.Perhaps more to the point is the sour taste that such events leave in the minds of the electorate at large.Can there be any wonder that so many people are often so deeply concerned about the nature of decisions made in their name and which can affect their lives so profoundly.

Proper Bo!

And this is exactly what bothers many of us about local government in Eastern Berwickshire. The temptation for too many sticky fingers in too many pies and too little public accountability. Now lets see some letters about local councillors with positions of responsibility on powerful planning committees dreaming of concreting broad acres and encouraging fellow landowners to do the same. so as to establish useful precedents for their own ambitions. There used to be an idea that local councillors sought office to protect and further the interests of the communities they represented. Public service. In two words.

Do you know any of them?

We should be told

And we can vote them in again.

(Even if they are Tories, or even, istaaf Allah*, SNP)

*Lets keep Islamic phraseology out of this-blog-ed.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Haste Ye to the Hustings.

Its getting on for election time*-Scottish Parliament and local councils. Trees are being torn down in the Amazon and Peebleshire to produce the electioneering 'literature' with which we are now being bombarded. Today's offering is 'Border News' a puff for the Lib Dems, the sitting MSP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Euan Robson, is of that ilk and our local, local councillor Big Jim Conundrum, is not-being a true blue Tory. But under the new preference vote system and bigger constituencies for the Scottish Borders Council 'East Berwickshire' will return three councillors, one of whom, presumably will be an ex-officio member of the Hutton and Paxton Community Council. Robson has done us well but in many ways the SBC councillor is more important to us for local interests-especially the vexed issue of planning. Here Big Jim Conundrum-Poisoned-Chalice Esq has been a disaster and it must surely be in the local interest to keep him out of 'office'. So no 'x' for him please. So forget the Tories.

I know nothing about the Lib Dem candidate for EB. He is called David Raw. I suppose he is worth a vote as a link to the excellent Robson but let us suspend judgement and hope he is not a farmer/landowner for all the reasons so tediously familiar to bloggees. I have not seen the SNP list-the local parliamentary candidate is from this part of the Merse and I have been told she may be standing as the local councillor as well. If so lets keep her out as well. The SNP are irrelevant to this part of Scotland (13% of the vote last time around) and if there is a possibility she might be the ex-officio H&PCC person-then that is an extra danger. Local farmers, their families and local issues don't mix well-the conflict of interest is just too great for comfort. Think back to the days of the lairds wife-think 'Knowe's Close' and think again. But if Mrs O is just destined for greatness in the rarefied atmosphere of Embra, good luck to her. She has a drive and enthusiasm conceivably productive at the national level. But around here? No thank you ma'am. Another x spared. More good candidates please and who else will stand up for a Crematorium in the Borders? Apart from the Lib Dems that is.

More pontifications to follow.

If I am spared

* May ,actually. Blog-ed.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Huttonian is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. Sounds grand, dont it? In fact it is cheap employment either for outsiders like ex Diplomats who have been there and done that and don't want to be arms salesmen or very ancient former academics who would like to hang on to their mortar boards and have a warm office to go to from time to time. We get paid for what we do. Pro rata. Nothing frivolous like a salary. Me for my occasional lectures and seminars. Cheap I think I mentioned. Put it this way.After paying tax on my fee added to my other income and deducting my travel I am 25p to the good. Could be worse. On days when I catch a train in rush hour, my more expensive 'Senior Railcard' ticket ensures I am 75 p to the bad. No frills. No special facilities for HFs.I am based in the faculty tea room, warmed by the water boiler, cooled by the water dispenser and talk to students who want to see me in the windy wilds of George Square.

So to day (after 9 years or so on the job, academically speaking) I was thrilled to see a sign which said Honorary Fellows Room- Basement: Room 23 through room 24. Room 24 was locked. After trying several offices I found a lady who was apparently in charge of graduate facilities. HFs are assumed to be graduates. I explained I was an HF; she was unimpressed and referred me to another woman, her assistant, who was even more unimpressed at my title, my position and functions (She must have seen my pay slip) After some interrogation as to my Bona Fides she sighed deeply, reluctantly left her desk, unlocked Room 24, took me through the faculty cinema into room 23. Computers! Phones! Chairs! Work spaces! And a view of the rather nice patch of earth which passes for a secluded garden to which there is no access or egress except via a fire escape from the first floor. What you do having escaped from the burning building I do not know-wait for it to fall down on you I suppose or climb up the fire escape when the embers have cooled.

But better than the Tea room. I asked my companion for a key. I' suppose I can have one cut by 'works, amenities and faculty engineering' or some such, she said with a sigh. I'll pick it up later this week I said-no you won't WA & FE are very busy. Like me she said. You will be lucky to get it by the end of term. She said. And then the room will not be available. I asked about access to the PCs, passwords, user names etc -not my responsibility she snapped, ask at the Library-they are responsible for IT. And she left me.

I asked the other occupant of the room-a very distinguished and ancient Honorary Fellow, an Emeritus Professor as well no doubt if the young lady was always so unhelpful. Yes he said but you are lucky-you got her on a good day.

But the phone. At least I have that. Call the wife and tell her that after 9 years of a Bedouin existence I have a place to call my own where I can rest between coffee breaks. On advice of the HF/EP I dialled 9 for an outside line. Nothing happpened . Greatly daring, not trusting my luck I dialled the whole number.... a voice said 'You are in a queue for an outside line.' I asked the old Prof what was meant by an outside line in this context. He gestured towards the scorched earth outside the basement window. Can I call long distance? I asked? Yes he said

:the Library.

Its nice to be so cherished. And appreciated

I could get used to it.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Huttonian was due to resume his lecturing duties at Embra Uni today and having done the usual careful check of the GNER website was delighted to find both the 10.22 and 10.47 running early -all in Green letters. Something made me check Railtrack : Arrivals at Berwick Station. A sea of Red-every train cancelled because of signalling problems at Darlington. Back to GNER-Green rules ok. Ignorance or denial? I decided to speak to a real person as the world wide web has its obvious limitations. So on to Rail Tracker. They were kind but unsighted. Yes there is a problem at Darlington. Yes GNER and Virgin are not running. Why is the GNER website not reporting problems? No idea. 'We understand' that buses are running from Darlington to Newcastle and we assume trains on from Newcastle as the buses stop there. But how do the trains reach Newcastle-apparently they are cancelled from Edinburgh going south as well? Sorry we know nothing, the rail companies are telling us nothing. Perhaps GNER is telling you nothing as its website says there is no problem. Don't know-best check the GNER website...... But according to....there is a hole in my bucket dear Liza....A hole

I have postponed my lecture until tomorrow.

In the meanwhile the GNER website webmaster geek is on a train heading towards his PC in York.

He is stuck in Darlington.

But if he logs on via the hi-tech, hi-wi-free- in- First Class on a Mallard Train he will see, all in Green:

He arrived in York two hours ago.

Two minutes early.

Have a good day.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Huttonian, being in the Big Smoke, missed last weeks 'Berwickshire' -strangely it was not available at the newsagents outside Palmers Green Station although you get other local papers like the Irish Times and Le Monde. When I saw the headline as below my heart leaped like a middle aged Ram-recognition for Big Jim Conundrum who farms in them there parts! At last. But not he-another farmer has scooped this award. Hutton Think Tank is working up a similar scheme for local tillers of the soil-the Hutton, Paxton and Fishwick Green Award for Farmers with Vision. All under wraps at the moment but a leak suggests that it will be for the landowner who builds the least houses on good agricultural land by the end of the current local plan. Anything under ten will qualify for a special bonus and a Jeroboam of Blackadder Treble Malt.

More of that anon, as they say. In the meanwhile savour the triumph of Farmer E. It would be good if our lot could follow suite-whatever happened to Farmer C's imaginative ideas for nature reserves, equestrian centres, paddle steamers woodland walks which so enthralled the former Community Council of blessed memory?

Conservation award for Coldingham farm
A BERWICKSHIRE farming couple have won a major accolade for their achievements in conservation.
Emma and Peter Edmundson of Press Mains Farm, near Coldingham, have won a national compeititon run by NFU Scotland.The farming and conservation award was presented to the couple at a special ceremony last week at Dunblane Hydro Hotel.They were given a £500 cheque and a plaque for their "superb conservation".The Edmundson's 493 hectare beef and arable farm has managed wildlife sites which include a badger set, red squirrel feeding station, a buzzard's nest, otter habitat and many other bird nests.Live pictures of the sites are beamed into the four holiday cottages on the farm which opened in 2003.Fully booked for this summer, the cottages are becoming very popular with wildlife watchers because of the abundance of animals and birds encouraged by the Edmundsons."Farming sometimes gets a very bad press and we are very keen to show that intensive agriculture and wildlife can go together," said Mr Edmundson.The farm is part of the Green Tourism Business Scheme and Wild Scotland and the Edmondsons are members of the environmental organisations LEAF and FWAG.They beat off five other finalists from all over Scotland to win the award which is sponsored by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland (RSPB Scotland)."It is a great honour to accept this award," said Mr Edmondson. "We enjoy watching wildlife and obtain a great satisfaction from knowing that our farming practices are benefiting wildlife."We have tried to take a practical approach to agri-environment schemes to benefit the farm and its farming system and to enhance habitats."Our aim is to leave the land in better condition than that in which we found it and also to show to our visitors and to the wider public just how wildlife and modern or commercial farming can co-exist."RSPB Scotland Director Stuart Housden said: "Agriculture is the main force that shapes Scotland's wildlife and habitats and farming that is done in sympathy with the needs of birds and biodiversity is essential if we are to protect and enhance the countryside."The winners have shown that they are willing to take that extra step by making big efforts to integrate conservation into their overall agricultural activities."As well as running successful working farms they have managed to provide a haven for a rich variety of wildlife - including priority species - and they deserve great praise for their efforts. Well done to both of them."
Saturday, March 03, 2007

GNER boasts of the scenic attractions of the East Coast line: Durham Cathedral, York Minister, Alnmouth, etc etc.
Less is said about our industrial heritage like the carbon positive pot boilers south of Doncaster spewing out their contribution to warming up the planet. Nor do they mention my favourite: Alexander Palace, Muswell Hill, not too far from the former Huttonian London residence. Ally Pally has a certain tired splendour and when seen, going south, you know it is time to gather your things as you near your last station stop and prepare to mind the gap and hit the ground sprawling.

The other images relate to our departure to London from Berwick. Second from top, is not only a rare picture of the station but captures the moment that the duty stationmaster announced that the 'on time' south bound Kings Cross express was arriving at Platform 1. It wasn't actually and the figure you see is the duty assistant deputy Station Master having been despatched to look for it He took his time, mind you and the top image is the exact moment that a train running on time became, officially, 'slightly delayed' . Picture don't get much historicaller than that.
Friday, March 02, 2007
  Loving Sisters

Loving Sisters
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Sorry Chain Bridge Bloggee but I could not resist sharing this image of Zoe and her Welsh sister, Ffion. The cuddles which used to be more strangleholds than warm embraces have become more gentle over time although Ffion is still a bit apprehensive when handed to her big sister

Ye Olde Cherry Tree
Originally uploaded by oiyou.
The pub in Old Southgate. Nice one if you don't mind paying £5 for a cup of coffee and a croissant. Across the road is the old green with a pair of stocks in the middle. Apparently not still in use. Perhaps a spell in them being pelted with stale croissants might be a more effective community service or a better deterrent than being served with an ASBO. Hutton Think Tank are looking into the idea of using stocks in the Merse with an experimental prototype being put up on the Paxton Village Green. This will be a hi-tech version of the Southgate one (pictured above) which is distressingly old fashioned and raises health and safety issues. Paxton is a more likely source of custom than peaceful, well behaved Hutton. Moreover Hutton has no public space for a punishment area nor a pub as a source of missiles for the local citizenry to use on the offenders.
Thursday, March 01, 2007

National Army Museum
Originally uploaded by tuttlesvc.
Arms and the Child

This is one of those peaceful images of war from the National Army museum in Chelsea where Huttonian gave a Lunchtime Talk today. I thought it would be full of old folks refighting the Somme-there were some at my talk but the average visitor was about 12 years old, more girls than boys and part of school groups. One lot of primary school kids were given a presentation on weapons of the First World War and life in the trenches. All very hands on -how to strip and clean a Lee Enfield .303, aim a mortar, and arm a hand grenade-so relevant to modern inner city life. Some of the grenades were being tossed around like confetti at a Mafia wedding. I said (jokingly)to a teacher-I hope those are dummies and not live. Health and Safety worries flashed across her features. Gosh.. So do I. I better go and find out from someone She withdrew under heavy fire.

Some one must have panicked slightly as the exercise was cut short and the child soldiers retreated to the next demo-dressing up in combat gear and putting camoflage paint on each others faces. I asked another teacher what part of the school curriculum this represented.

' Appropriate Civics' apparently
Happenings in A small Scottish Community


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