Musings from the Merse
Saturday, June 30, 2007

ROOTS-The Concert

As promised Huttonian attended the concert at Paxton House by the 'Descendant Youth group. Despite almost non existent publicity it was pretty full, albiet mainly of people who were part of the Descendant's entourage. As well as delightful singing and dancing by a very young team of Grenadians-or of Grenadine descent there was an exhibition of posters and articles about the slave trade, the Grenada connection and the revolt of 1795/6 in which, a former owner of Paxton House, Ninian Home was killed. Also famous Grenadians were featured including Lewis Hamilton the Grand Prix driver and the only winner of a VC in the Iraq conflict.The Laird got to his feet at the end and mentioned the historical connection between Paxton House and the Slave Trade and said how 'deeply ashamed' he was of his forebear Ninian Home. This went down well with a representative of the group who accepted that the slave trade needed to be kept in a historical context and not resurrected as part of a modern retrospective blame game.So no aggressive rattling of chains nor angry demands for reparations-a pity more was not made of this very moving celebration. Had it been better advertised I am sure you could have filled the Picture Gallery many times over.

Part of the exhibition were paintings by the children of the Scottish/Grenada connection-mostly palm trees and Saltires but at least one youngster had a go with the Ninian Home angle-presuming that is the intention of the image of an 18th Century gent and his lady.

I suggest you click on the images to get the fine detail

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Originally uploaded by knautia
There are17500 plus images of 'Grenada' in Flickr- add 'Slavery' into the search engine and the only relevant picture is this. Given the great slave revolt of 1796 and how the original prosperity of Grenada ( profits mostly exported by the plantation owners to the UK) was based on sugar plantations this seems somewhat surprising unless there has been a concerted effort to obscure any record of those unhappy days. I mention this only in the context of the afternoon of Dance, Drama and Music' at Paxton House given by the London Youth Group 'Descendants' influenced as the flyer says 'by their Grenadian Heritage'. We have mentioned before the suitability of this afternoon's setting given the direct connection between the original owners of Paxton House and the sugar plantations of Grenada-an earlier owner: Nivian Home was deputy governor of Grenada and was killed in a slave revolt-possibly that of 1796.
Sadly this event has been very badly advertised. A few rather uninspiring flyers at the shop, a couple of uninformative notices giving little details (and those few being wrong as it is only today and not the whole 'weekend' for the performance) Why put it on and then try to bury it? Is someone somewhere (in the Paxton House Trust?) a bit nervous about drawing attention to the early days of Scotland's Finest Palladian Mansion?' And how much of it was subsidised by the income from sugar. And so what? That's part of our history. Recognise it, deplore it if you must and move on

Huttonian will however attend (2pm onwards) and will do his best to propogate a few images of the children' show.

Thanks to knautia for the picture-go o http://www.flickr.com/blog.gne
for more details
Friday, June 29, 2007

Newcastle by sea
Originally uploaded by erase
Taken by the junior son in law with what, almost literally, may have been a fish eye lens. Huttonian Spring/summer/autumn residence is just invisible to the right of the picture. The Mountains of Mourne, although sweeping down to the sea, as they do, are lost in the dreich. (Or in Norn Iron, they would say-a wee mist)

See more Irish Images http://www.flickr.com/photos/erase/642323198/

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Originally uploaded by erase
No not Spital-but Newcastle County Down, Norn Iron -taken by the junior son in law from quite near the Huttonian cottage-looking across Dundrum Bay with the bad end of Newcastle mercifully obscured.
The SNP who did miserably in these parts of the Borders are now having a bit of a post election moan. Their cri de coeur is in this weeks Berwickshire To wit:

- I am very disappointed that the motion proposed by Councillor Donald Moffat and which represents the SNP’s manifesto commitment to end the current cabinet structure within Scottish Borders Council has not been reported to date in the press.
This was a substantive motion which I believe would have delivered a more democratic style of government to the people of the Borders and would have encouraged a wider debating forum across the political spectrum.
No-one would have been left out and all members of the electorate would be represented in the council chamber.
There is a growing feeling amongst opposition groups that we are being marginalised at all levels in Scottish Borders Council.
The latest utterances from Councillors Houston and Bhatia at the recent planning meeting that ward councillors who are not members of the committee should not be allowed to speak on matters in their area flies in the face of democracy and those two councillors should be thoroughly ashamed of even thinking about such a tactic.
How they dare to call themselves Democrats beggars belief . . . could it be that we are entering a “dog eat dog” era of local politics?
The latest piece of nonsense that has come to my attention is that a letter has been sent to community councils asking them who they want to be their councillor representative.
Let me make my position and that of the SNP in the Borders quite clear - we will be attending all our community councils within our wards wherever possible or practicable.
Leader SNP Group,
Scottish Borders Council.

Translation: we did badly in the elections, hardly anyone voted for us but we would still like to share power. Tough. The problem you lot have is called democracy.

As for a dog eat dog era in local politics-now there is a novel concept for you.

Note an ominous threat about community councils. Thank goodness we have no SNP councillor in our ward -East Berwickshire-SNP candidate came way bottom of the poll. However if it was the question of a swap between Tory Conundrum and a SNP councillor from else where-and that was the only offer on the table, then I am sure our CC would consider it:

Very carefully.

As Hoots Mc Tavish of That Ilk used to say when out of his cups:

Better the devil you don't know than the one you do'

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

One) Ring up BT to report a fault to Sympathetic Manner

Two) Fault Squad duty techie calls and identifies fault on line to the nearesttwo miles-in our case between the Paxton Exchange and the Hutton Church (How this is known as there is no line connection to Hutton Church)

Three) Fixit Techie arrives. Tracks fault to near Church. Sits over hole for two hours and reports all clear. 'New bit of line laid replacing faulty bit'

Line works for twenty minutes: then slows down-stops once again


See One) above

At least it is not raining at Wimbledon.
Musical Organics

Berwickshire is largely an organic free zone-the Old Manse garden is an honourable exception, being quite literally, a BOG (Borders Organic Gardeners) standard plot. But, as we have posted before, just up the road there is an organic eggery (www.bordereggs.co.uk)Here-see notice-the hens are musically educated but I just wonder if they should also be exposed to Radio Three to give their eggs a little something extra in the way of a more classical education. But Wagner, Sir P Maxwell Davies or no I reckon that these are the best eggs in Berwickshire-see map on website as to where to find them.

The image of the hens is not so hot being taken from a photograph hanging in the eggery. But they look cheerful enough-enigmatic silences are obviously not bothering them

The wife is just back from a Hen Night-didn't have far to go
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
  Gay Scarecrow

Gay Scarecrow
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
This scarecrow was doing a great job at Anton's Hill-perhaps thanks to the expression on its face-partly legless may explain something but a number of passerbys wondered if it was a gay scare thing or just a bit camp. Perhaps this may just be clutching at straws.Click on image for full effect.

Huttonian on leaving the Diplomatic Service published an anthology of poetry written by (mostly) British dips and their families. It was to raise money for three overseas charities with connections with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Having paid back the publishing costs,paid up front to the Book Guild-the publication has raised about £9,000 pounds.

Contributors range from Lady Angela Greenhill a very distinguished poet and wife of a former head of the Diplomatic Service-her granddaughter and several still serving members of the FCO, spouses and two children. Two entries are from Cecily Eastwood who was tragiclly killed in a road accident in Zambia during her gap year when she was working as a volunteerwith CINDI (Children in Distress) Her parents then established Cecily's Fund which pays for the education of several thousand Zambian AIDS orphans-£6000 of the proceeds from the sale of the book has gone to CF.

The pomes vary from the high class to light verse and the collection is illustrated in black and white line drawings. There is an entertaining foreword by (Lord) Douglas Hurd, a former Foreign Secretary.

Why mention this? As it happens there are a few copies left. So if you want to read about the Bag Lady of Muswell Hill, the Ambassador who detonated a nuclear device in the Jordanian Parliament, how to behave at a cocktail party when flying the flag for Britain, what Christmas in Bethlehem is really like and other insights into la vie diplomatique now is your chance. Knock down offer £12 including p&p

The charity which will benefit from this closing down sale is Cerebral Palsy Africa

(www.cerebralpalsyafrica.org see previous posts) So if you want one use the e-mail link -old_greywolf2000@yahoo.co.uk-

But hurry.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
More silence-courtesy of BT

A very pleasant BT engineer from the Faults Squad, the SAS of BT, came to check our non functioning ISDN line. I told him that I thought it was a line fault. He begged to differ and diagnosed a possible lightening strike on the junction box and changed. Lo and also behold we were on line in a flash. He went his way rejoicing.

Two hours later the line was back to its old tricks. 40 attempts to Log on, sometimes did and then cut off. I went through the fault reporting procedure.Another nice man called back. 'Intermittent Line Fault-tests showed; the SASwould be dealing with it when tea breaks permit. I asked about junction boxes. Nothing to do with it. Intermittent Line fault. 'Know what I mean?' I said I did: 'sometimes it worked,

sometimes it didn't.'

'Got it in one' he said. And just before he put his phone down I heard the unmistakeable rattle of tea mugs.

BTSAS are on their way.
The Sound of Silence-postponed

No sooner had Huttonian posted his fears about the Sir Peter Maxwell Davies''Unstarted Symphony' then the Music at Paxton organisers announced that there would be no performance this year as ' Sir Peter has been the victim of a major fraud case and has had to delay completion of some commissioned work' So obviously several unstarted and other unfinished works are yet to see the light of day. How, one wonders, does one defraud a distinguished composer? Did his latest Yamaha Grand turn out to be a Japanese upright and e-bay have had to take it back? Its all reported in the press apparently but not being in the Berwickshire its not really news around here.

Anyow I am sure we will enjoy Mozart's G Minor Quartet and Jean Francaix's String Trio instead. At least both works have apparently been finished and both are being played by the Primrose Piano Quartet. Could yet be a hiccup as it is not explained (in the slightly unclear document produced by the festival organisers) how the Primose Piano Quartet will play (become?) a String Trio. Hopefully they too have not been the victim of a sting and on opening their package from e-bay have found that the contract for their piano

has no strings attached
Monday, June 25, 2007
SLAVES GO FREE (no pun intended)
The Paxton House website carries the following item amongst its events:

Saturday/Sunday - 30th June to 1st July ~ Grenada Weekend -
Times to be confirmed
The London youth group 'Descendants' perform plays, stories and songs based on their Grenada heritage to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slave trade.
(More details to follow)

With less than a week to go this is singularly uninformative. A pity as I think this is a really bold and imaginative idea by the Paxton House Trust given the 'Finest Palladian Mansion' in Scotland strong association with the slave trade abolished in the UK 200 years ago. The house's magnificent Adam furniture and fittings and much of the structure was almost certainly financed out of the proceeds from the Home sugar plantations in Granada. One prominent Home, Ninian, who was the Deputy Governor of Grenada as well as running the family planatations was killed in a slave revolt instigated by the French. Of course.

Lack of detailed advance publicity may reveal a certain uneasiness by the Trust over too high a profile event to mark the bi-centenary of the British abolition of the slave trade. Worries about demands for reparations? Public aploogies? Always possible I suppose. But it is a long time ago and was legal (if morally reprehensible) at the time. If the going gets tough demands for reparations can work both ways. Compensation and an apology please for the murder of the late beloved Ninian Home? Mind you it is not certain to whom that demand should be properly made. To the descendants of the rebelling slaves?

Or to the French?

A little notice in the courtyard announces : Tickets £4 Concessions £2 (and might add Slaves Free)

It should be a fun evening. Come one , Come all. After all, like the communist workers of the world, you have nothing to lose

But your chains.
Sunday, June 24, 2007

One of the delights of a Merse summer are the number of private gardens open to the public as part of the Scottish Gardens Scheme. Today it was the turn of Anton's Hill where besides the usual tea tent, tombola stall, plant sales there was a model railway which is part of a seperate organic walled garden run by a railway fanatic who has built an Intercity Engine and a steam goods engine not too far from his cabbage patch. It was meant to amuse the children but it was only adults (grown ups?) that I saw actully riding on them. Model railways seem rarely to be for a child under about 45.

A notice on the gate leading into the organic walled garden indicates something that I have always suspected. In the Borders

Rabbits can read
Hurry Through while the Watch Sleeps

A rather fierce sign greets you as you leave Hutton on the Hutton Castle road:


SO make sure you are leaving-and empty handed?

Actually the Neighbourhood watch concept is quite new and was a Community Council initiative about 5 years ago. When we arrived in Hutton just about 10 years ago someone told us that there was no crime worth mentioning around these parts-apart from a recent stealing of a bicycle. True? I don't know but Robert Mossom the 'Incomer Poet' as he is called (well, some one called him that) was inspired to produce the following ditty

Neighbourhood Watch Hutton Style

‘Community Alert’* they call it here.
Oxymoronic surely.
Our rural calm is soporific.
Unbroken by any suspicion
of criminal intent ever since
the village burglar was apprehended
escaping from the scene of his crime
on a stolen bicycle.

He might even have got away
had he not been walking the bike
uphill. (He had nicked the one
without gears.)

Now if you venture through the village
in its post neutron bomb like emptiness
all you get is
the occasional curtained twitch**
of the neighbourhood watch
going about
your business.

* They don't actually but it is a better oxymoron than 'Neighbourhood Watch'

** Not quite accurate. Many uncurtained windows, as it happens

The same poet also wrote about the apparent emptiness of the hamlet in his seminal ground breaking:

'Collecting for Christian Aid'(But that was about Paxton)

We are more generous here
Saturday, June 23, 2007

Largo Louts

Like wine tasting notes full of nose. bouquet, depth snd colours writing concert programmes is a fine art with its own codes and epithets. Last night the Blog enjoyed 'The Late Piano Works' (Beethoven-since you ask) at Paxton Hose and found they were full of deceptive lyricisms, obsessive propulsions, enigmatic pauses and silences, spaciousnesses of heavenly lengths, presenting a clenched fisted challenge ending (the Hammerklavier) teetering on the brink of chaos. Throughout the trilling was not designed to produce ectasty. So no meeting of Harry and Sally.

There was also enjoyable music.

We can now confidently look fo forward to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and the Scottish (indeed, possibly, World) premiere of his brand new piano symphony to be performed by the Primrose Piano Quartet. Rumour has it that Sir P has not completed his work and the concert is on 27 July. For goodness sake.

Will we be treated to another'Unfinished' or, if he is even more laid back than it appears:

The Unstarted.

Full of enigmatic silences, no doubt
Friday, June 22, 2007

Yes I know that this is not Duns (MPBUI) but the Hirsel Golf Club where Huttonian used to play until he left because of a n unfortunate incident involving discoutesy to a guest. I only post this as I have just finished 18 holes at Duns having been warned by the BBC Blether Centre that it was going to be wet, that swimming was not advised owing to the thickness of the water above the sea. They did not actually say that in so many words but the weather charts implied horrific conditions making it inadvisable to leave home under any circumstances. This image of the Hirsel shows rain threatening so I thought it would be an appropriate picture to hang in the weather centre where rain, the prospect of rain and its aftermath in particular is such a joy for the lads and lasses who frighten us with such relish and regularity.

At Duns, it was dry, windless and eventually sunny.

Of course (no pun intended)
Huttonian is a bit handicapped for the moment as our beloved ISDN line (formerly in 'our' post office) after 4 years of faultless service decided to take advantage of our absence in Isle de France Profonde to pack bucket and spade, towels, flip flops and finally pack it in and pack up. BT are not too sympathetic as they are trying to phase out ISDN in favour of Broadband and are, with the greatest reluctance are sending around an engineer to fix the line. Unusually they admit that there is a fault-usually they will try and blame you for any problems because you have fitted the wrong kind of PC, Lap Top, Telephone, Toaster etc and you should unplug everything and then there is a good chance the line might work. I had to point out once as my ISDN line was plugged only into the computer-if I then unplugged the computer there was (a) a racing certainity that it would not work and (b) I would not be able to tell if the ISDN line was working or not.

Anyhow the BT techie is coming (First appointement possible Monday) and I have to be warned that if the fault is found to be the PC, Laptop, Table Lamp, Washing machine, personal vibrator and not the line I will be charged a horrendous amount.

In the meanwhile it is dial up, a byte a second, no images and no possibilty of testing a new Blogger feature of uploading video clips to your post.

I have resisted Broad band but if the ISDN line continues to play up I will be forced to upgrade and not with AOL.

But in the meanwhile I have to allow an hour for reading my e-mails,an hour for replying and the rest of the day for moaning on my blog about how slow it is to moan on my blog. And then at some point the wife wants to use the bloody phone.

Roll on death.

If it comes via dial up I have quite a lot of time to live.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
  GNER 120mph, UP Platform, Reston

GNER blur
Originally uploaded by richardphotographer
An Impression of a GNER train not stopping at Reston Station (see post below)

Many thanks to richardphotographer and GNER staff at York who have kindly allowed their station to be the model for the proposed restored Reston International

The letter columns of the Berwickshire continue to simmer over the vexed question of the reopening of Reston Station. Below is the latest volley:

Sanderson Jr, (June 7 and May 24) in his attack on RAGES, displays breathtaking arrogance, for he lacks both knowledge of the Reston project or, it seems, empathy with the people of east Berwickshire.
The reintroduction of local services for a population of 20,000 in Berwickshire is vital to allow access to services, further and higher education and employment opportunities and, let us not forget, family and friends, on an equitable basis to our counterparts across Scotland. Tourism should also be a winner.
I have not seen the STAG appraisal commissioned by the council, but census data reveals east Berwickshire ward has a similar average distance to place of work or study (23 miles) as North Berwick Coastal ward and Dunbar and East Linton.
We also have a similar number of people in employment or studying (all circa 5,000). However, while North Berwick (7.4%) and Dunbar/East Linton (5.7%) have good utilisation rates for trains as the main means of travel, in east Berwickshire it is just 2.1%, with just 99 using trains daily, as of 2001.
Matching the North Berwick figure would raise us to circa 350 or matching Dunbar would mean 275 passengers per day. A lot has changed since then and with new housing I think these figures could be surpassed.
Given the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link (£600 million and rising), and the £500 million tram project that effectively only replaces one of the best bus routes in the city, will the people of Edinburgh fund these new services themselves?
If not, why then should taxpayers in our community help fund Edinburgh's grandiose projects, while denying us a basic service on a line that already traverses our beautiful landscape without a single station?
Undoing the damage done here by Beeching would cost less than 0.5% of the capital cost of Edinburgh's status projects and help relieve congestion.
SNP canvass returns from east Berwickshire (population 10,300) were enlightening. We gathered hard data from the Eyemouth area (population 3,000), that indicates that 16% of voters responding stated that they would be regular users of a new service, and 56% stated they would be occasional users. In addition, almost 16% supported the project even if they would not use it themselves. In fact, of those responding, only 12% did not support the Reston proposals.
We in the Berwickshire SNP back the aims of RAGES and will gather further data from voters in the area to build a robust evidence for our use in lobbying our colleagues in the Scottish Government.

I humbly wonder what would actually happen if Reston station were to reopen? Would all 20,000 Berwickshirers rush to catch the 8.05 from Reston-all of 5 minutes by train (and 15 minutes by road) from Berwick-thus making that village-twinned with Mecca (where, remember, you can't get a ham sandwich-Reston I mean, not sure about Mecca)the hub of Eastern Berwickshire? I suspect that they would continue to do what they have done since Dr Beeching wielded his big axe in the 1950s.And go to Berwick.From Hutton I can get to Berwick quicker than to Reston and this would apply to many other settlements in Berwickshire.

But here is the nub.

The trouble for Berwickshire SNP is that Berwick upon Tweed is in England.

They want a station in Scotland. And being Berwickshire SNP. In Berwickshire. No matter if it makes bad sense and is a gross waste of taxpayers money.

But it could be visionary forward thinking. Come THE DAY that Bravehearts get their independent republic Reston International Station will come into its own: Passport and Immigration control going north and exit stamps going south. Now, a conundrum. Which platform will be more crowded? The Up

or Down?

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

GNER was on good form today apart from one unexplained stop at Durham Station which ended with an an anguished tannoy announcement:' Guard to speak to Driver immediately' 'Oh no' said a passenger 'Trouble. Here we go again' (meaning here we don't go again) But we did. No comment, no inconvenience regretted-but 15 minutes late is not an inconvenience-its a bucket full of Brownie points.

We had one of those Sword of Damocles moments (three and a half hours worth) in the form of a large unwieldy suitcase in the rack over the seats in front of us. Put there, (despite the remonstrations of his wife) with some difficulty by a blunt Yorkshire man at King Cross who obviously did not want to run the risk of having his possessions stolen by some effete southern rag head from the rack at the end of the carriage while his back was turned. He managed to balance it with more than half of the case protruding over his head-actually it would have been his wife rather than him who would have been clobbered had it fallen, like the gentle dew from Heaven, on the place beneath.It trembled on a few occasions as the Mallard reached its top operating speed, but stayed put-but the strain of watching it forced us out of our seats into the Dining Car to enjoy triple decker BLTs. Surprisingly he did not leave the train at York-must have been an exiled Tyke (The Borders are full of them) and he was still snoozing gently when we exited at Berwick. His wife remained rigidly on guard expecting the worse at any moment, quite unable to enjoy the Leeds edition of Hullo magazine

They could, I suppose, have moved across the aisle as the carriage emptied. But Albert and his missus had paid for those seats, had their reservation slips on them and that, bloody well, was that.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
  Gare du Nord

Gare du Nord
Originally uploaded by Leucippus
Great for Trains but poor on Loos (see below) And today not so great on trains. Our Eurostar got a sickie pour une probleme tech nique and we had to evacuate our cariage and cross the platform to get into another train, sans probleme technique. Only 20 minutes late into Waterloo so not bad after all

Another thing about Gare du Nord is/are the facilities.

Signs on the main concourse stated Toilettes-with the sign pointing to the steps to RER and other underground diversions. We followed them. Down steps. Toilettes right. Go right. Keep on folowing signs. No Toilettes. Signs point forward. Go forward, legs tired and beginning to cross.

Reach Billets. No more signs. No Toilettes. Despair. Billets French not up to Huttonian's. Fails to understand question. Gesticulateswildly and unhelfully.

Suddenly a small sign in an obscure corner, but with a message : McCLEANS. Yes, or more appropriately in this case Oui Oui. Its the Loo

One entrance via turnstile for messieurs the other for dames. And then two turnstiles at 50c and One Euro for les Messieurs. I saw the cheap option too late and paid my euro. I was in the cabinet area-sit down jobs. The Pissoirs at 50c were walled off from the cabinets and all cubicles were 'occupes' by long term residents. So out of the cabinet area, search for 50c and another turnstile for the standing relief urinals.

Its only in France that you can be really pissed off at great expense.Even more expensive than Kelso.

And why McCleans. What does the Academie Francaise make of this US import.

I asked a fellow traveller about this. A very Gallic shrug:

'C'est Le Globalisation'-

to coin another French word
Monday, June 18, 2007

Being some distance from Paxton House we decided, instead, to visit Chateau Malmaison, a former residence of Napoleon Bonaparte and then given to Empress Josephine after their divorce in 1809 (Not tonight Josephine, a hint not taken, apparently.)The Chateau is full of portraits of the unhappy couple (who did not produce a child from the union-looking at the narrow beds, its not too surprising) and a magnificent garden which is partly meadow with a profusion of wild flowers. One sad object is a simple chair, on which the defeated Emperor spent his declining years on Saint Helena.

You can do many things in the Chateau, including taking photographs, frisbees in the garden, pas de probleme, gambol with your chien de saussicon sans bags plastiques But no picnics, please.

We are French

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

To go to France and go to one school party might be construed as careless, but to go to a second, on sucessive days, could bde criminally irresponsible. The Montesorri system prides itself on kindness to children-but kindness to adults, that is a cheval of an autre colleur. As posted previously we were subjected to slow moving inaudible dramas, with inefficient sound system, tortoise stage direction with the children bored to distraction (and those were the ones performing) and only the parents in the front two rows having any idea what was going on. Ennui sur Stilts.

Today was different. An infants school in the middle of the forest with views over Paris to the Eiffel Tower and Grande Arche de Defense. On a glorious summmer's day with switched on kids really motivated by enthusiastic teachers. Quel Différence.

Ms Katy B, whose school it is, had a good day on the drums and correctly guessed the number of M&Ms in a jar (582). Mr P was proud to show of his 'Rainbow Fish' portrait painted ensemble with three other budding Matisses

Huttonian met his Waterloo in the silent auction. With thirty seconds to go asnd in the lead with 25 euro for a multicoloured apron decorated with children's palm prints a two metre tall Finn suddenly out bid me by a single euro and declared the auction closed. A veteran of Ebay one assumes.

But you don't argue with Finns. Not two metre ones anyway
Saturday, June 16, 2007

Huttonian is just off to the grandson's school to enjoy the school play. Three Hours and mostly in French. I hope I shall be spared to tell the tale.

Borders Planners could learn a lesson on semi rural development. This is probably the French equivalent of Sunningdale or Esher but there is little sense of urban sprawl, the integrity of small villages has been preserved and so have the ancient Royal forests which surround us here in Marly. Streets hardly seem to be that-country lanes in the midst of middle class (very expensive) housing. Yet local villagers seem still to live locally

And the community take a pride in their environment. As the notice above indicates.

Ah. If only!

Oh and the school play was not fatal.As it turned out. It would have been better if the microphones worked, ditto the music system,the stage management a shade quicker, and if it had not been in


Collectors of the sublime should look at this week's Berwickshire at http://www.berwickshire-news.co.uk/news?articleid=2950947

and enjoy the latest Border's enterprise: a web based company hovering in the Berwickshire cyberspace producing, inter alia, plaid bikinis in the Ancient Buchanan Tartan. Hutton Think Tank have suggested the production of matching 'Beach Sporrans to go with plaid trunks (or instead of, for male bathers of modest means)for the safekeeping of car keys, cell phones or anything else best not left around on the sand whilst enjoying a dip.

And the Tartans need to be more locally appropriate: like the Hunting Fishwick to be worn when frantically searching for a parking spot on the Bypass
Thursday, June 14, 2007
La Defense (de cracher?)

"Excuser moi-ce train est bon pour La Defense?" asked Huttonian anxiously having got hopelessly lost in Gare du Nord where le sport national is to confuse all Anglo Saxons by )(a) hiding the ticket offices for le RER and b) hiding le RER itself. And then ensuring that to get to "B Direction Robinson"" involves a very long walk to an ill directed Quai not made easy by dragging a woobly wheeled suitcase up and down non functioning escalators.

The recipient of my enquiry having looked me up and down supercilliously and then waited until the doors had closed behind me thus ensuring I was likely to be trapped on the wrong train put down his paper (too late I noticed it was the Times) spoke at last

"Actually Old Boy. It is!

Good guess!


Prat Anglais

And then I had to do this on the French Blogspot


  French Arc

French Arc
Originally uploaded by _Zeta_
En route to this by Eurostar very shortly. Lots of images of grandchildren inevitable. Sorry! Chain Bridge Bloggee. Back to rats and damp cows in due course
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
"Yeah" said the ash blond to her slightly shorter skirted companion " like, I had to make the f******g coffee, like,three "******* times, as if, like I could not get my head, like, around the like, the ******* photo copier. I have only been there, like, fifteen ******* months. You would, like, have thought......

Escaped at the Elephant and Castle.

Relieved not only at the relief from such artless chatter but also having managed not to have left my flies unzipped: Not that I am a judge but ex-Ambo in Flasher Scandal: Lord of the Flies. Our Man lets it all Hang Out. etc etc Write your own tabloid headline . Not that these young ladies would have noticed.

When you are over fifty.

You are invisible.

Especially on the Northern Line
The Blog is off for a brief visit to Deepest Isle de France so posts may be erratic.

Good news from the woodpile. No sighting of rat/rats for nearly 24 hours. Either it is too wet for an excursion out of the rain forest-and it is very wet-or else the sole surviving rodent has packed his bags in search for a friendlier environment.

I'll hold on to the air rifle for the moment.

Unilateral disarmament is rarely a good idea.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Hutton Think Tank has been working for some time on how to turn the area into a major tourist destination. They have given up Paxton village as a lost cause since the emergence of the quite awful Orchard development which is a pity given the fact that the Cross is by far the best pub in the area. However there is still Paxton House, the nearby (seasonal) Amazing Maize Maze,the potential of Fishwick as a spectator building site (much more impressive buildings than the Orchard can provide as long as you can avoid the traffic snarl ups) the across the border, just, Honey Farm which now requires a six mile detour with the Chain Bridge closed for repairs. So a visit to the Paxton conurbation is something of a starter.

But Hutton? Unlike Paxton it can claim to be unspoilt. No inappropriate development there and little scope for it although it is a pity that Mr JR's yard lies right in the middle of what under a previous local plan, in the Hutton Landscape Assessment, was categorised as 'Important local views over this area' The rest of the village landscape is either 'gently undulating' or in the case of Hutton Hill : 'Ridge of High Land' How poetical: some rural bard musing how best to find rhymes for 'gently undulating'-the charms of a nubile rustic Mayde perhaps; best glimpsed from an arbour on that ridge of high land as the charms of Hutton lie revealed beneath. And all around imposing important views. Then a leisurely stroll through deserted streets, past the old pub (closed) the Old Smiddy (a private house) the spanking new Village Hall, and down to the Whitadder to admire Hutton Mill (self catering) and being careful not to disturb the 20,000 Pheasant chicks- a good example of appropriate light industry mingling with a nature trail along the bonny bonny* banks of the river.

Then there is the old graveyard behind the imposing Kirk. Closed for new stiffs apart from the Laird's unfilled plot. Some interesting ancient 'monuments' (as a grandson, then all of three years, put it) including the one pictured above of a chap to whom the Great Reaper may have come as something of a relief. Hutton is best in the Spring and early summer if only someone could down size the extent of the bloody daffodils.

So there we have it: Old Mills, New Hall, the gardens of Royal Terrace,the organic fruit bushes at the Old Manse,the playground of Knowe's Close, the Kirk, the ancient graveyard (and a new one down the road)the bonny bonny* banks of the Whiteadder, the May blossom, the Old Smiddy,the Old Pub, a rare surviving rural post office,virtually pedestrianised streets, highland ridges, gently undulating pastures, important views and one of the Borders' last unspoilt hamlets. That should bring them flocking in.

Hutton Think Tank's ante penultimate paragraph in its as yet unpublished report wonders if huddled masses hurrying in in their charabancs might not spoil our unspoilt rural paradise.


* One 'bonny' is sufficient. Blog-ed

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