Musings from the Merse
Sunday, September 30, 2007

Watching the crushing of Wales by Fiji and the narrow escape from humiliating defeat by Scotland at the hands of Italy (It's about Rugby I am talking, Anxious of Ayton)I recall the tee shirts sold proudly in Souvenir shops in South Bridge Street, Embra, with the message 'Any One But England' at the time of the last Rugby World Cup. Not just a Scottish phenomenon -Irish Pubs are full of jeering punters egging on any side England are playing at any sport. What a bad time both nations had in 2003.And doubtless the Welsh are no different. Despite being about 25% Scottish myself via my Ulster Settler background I still find such petty and mindless anti-Englishness highly irritating. Mind you this built-in national inferiority complex is deep rooted and in the case of Scotland goes back well before Edward 1 and despite the Act of Union (perhaps indeed because of a nationalistic perception of it) and the dominance of Scottish people in so many parts of British life it is strongly evident today. It was, I think, Dr Johnston who described a well balanced Scot as a man with
a chip on both his shoulders.

Ireland play Argentina tonight to remain in the World Cup.

Should I watch it in The Cross? And should I shout at regular intervals

'Come on the Argies'?

I need to think about that one

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Noble Bagpiper
Originally uploaded by Orin Optiglot
For the only time in 10 plus years I heard the pipes in Ber-Wick this morning. For a second I thought I had been beamed up to Embra, but no, there he was, parading from Boots, via Thornton's Chocs towards the old town hall where there was a food (not Scottish as it happens) festival in full swing. The image from Flickr (thankyou Orin Optiglot) does him some justice although he had no moustache. Nor did he have an offertory dish, but this did not prevent a sweet elderly Scottish expat lady ( I am making three assumptions here), overcome with patriotic emotion, from thrusting money into his hand during a short break in the performance.

Smiling, and with a tiny bob(no pun intended) he handed the specie back and said something I did not quite catch. Was it : 'Thankyou but I am not a mendicant piper unlike that disgrace to the Kilterhood in Princes Street' or, just possibly in these times of some inflation and collapsing house prices;

'Sorry. It's not enough. Missus

(Or putting it more traditionally : I am sending you hame

Tae think again)


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Friday, September 28, 2007
A bloggee has commented that now Huttonian is going to be rebranded as 'Reluctant Dinger' or something that he should take more interest in the doings of Sheriff Kevin of Duns- in his court, of course, we hasten to add.

Sadly most cases presided over by the Sheriff are mundane and frankly boring: drink driving, breach of probation, having a MOT without insurance, cooncealing of weapons of mass destruction, possession of a knife.That sort of everyday offencce Only one unusual event reported in the Berwickshire -a 'youth' who destroyed 102 containers of milk outside a Coldingham shop by kicking and throwing them around the High Street at a cost of £112- being condemned for 'mindless behaviour' by the Procurator Fiscal and being held responsible for the absence of milk in Coldingham the following morning. Or to be more accurate there was rather a lot of milk but not in appropriate containers. In mitigation it was explained that the youth in question had been camping with friends in Coldingham Bay the previous night and 'had consumed alcohol' -had he been sober would that have been alright then?

The Sheriff was not impressed and before putting on his black cap agreed that the defendant and his friends who aided and abetted the milk curdling events were 'mindless' and thugs as well. He called for reports and the 17 year old Eyemouth lad is to appear in court again next month. Presumably for sentencing. Transportation to Oz, or even to Paxton, is thought unlikely.

It is encouraging to note that none of the defendants arraigned this week came from Duns itself but from outposts of wickedness such as Eyemouth and Greenlaw.

Elsewhere in the Borders the paper reports a second offence of a motorist destroying a speed camera. In this case he was captured on camera in the act. Hopefully the Garda Siochana will be able to return him to face British Justice from the wilds of County Kerry.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

We get the odd moment of genuine insight at community council meetings. At one recent discussion of anti social behaviour by local yuff a harassed member of the community asked a visiting copper what she should do if a football is kicked into her garden and no one comes round to claim it. 'Call the Police' was the reply-and then thinking that this might be a bit OTT for a very small nuisance he reformulated his suggestion. ' Get a very sharp knife

And stick it into the ball'

Nice to hear the local fuzz offer such

Penetrating advice

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007
No need to sign for this one

One advantage of living in rural areas (this one at least) is the very personal postal service. Not only does the postie deliver the mail as per his (in this case) job description he will also pick up the outgoing letters. Nothing to do with us having been a post office, just part of the service. And as we live next to the only industrial outfit in greater Hutton, we get our mail nice and early in the morning. And, a bonus this, thanks to the enthusiasm of our postal guy I now know more about Newcastle United than I ever did before and much more than I really need to know for most purposes. But at least I can shout 'Come on the Magpies' with some authority. Not that it often seems to work. And I don't really want to worry about Michael Owen on top of trying to sell a large house.

The Posties cover a huge parish berween 7am and 2 pm or so having started off at Ber Wick sorting office. TD15 being English,basically. And I sometimes see them in unexpected places sipping their coffee or munching their dinner. Or up to something else less explicable.

Like this morning there was the little red van parked outside the 'new' cemetery-only been in use this past thirty years. No sipping no munching-some other mission.

Suddenly the thought of a dead letter box popped into my head. In the new cemetry. Of course.Fishwick Special Branch would never have thought of that. And the whole operation would give a new dimension to the expression:

Last Post

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No Marks out of Ten
Its not usual to see visitors from the Far East in Ber Wick and it is getting late in the year for foreigners (except Scots.) But to day I saw the old fashioned type of Japanese visitor, two cameras, eager and interested in his surroundings-such as they are around the Council Offices. I knew, once I saw him, what was going to happen next. He stopped me with a courteous little bow (and by blocking my progress) and indicated that he would like me to photograph him against a suitable building. So I moved with him towards the rather grim but photogenic Anglican Church (built, it is said, by Cromwell) . He was having nothing of it and indicated that I should take him beside a very small Toyota with an extensive view of the half empty car park behind him. 'My car' he said 'Hired at airport. Japanese. Very good' ' Good car park. Excellent facility' He added. I handed him back the smaller camera and asked if he liked Ber Wick. 'Lubbish' he replied. 'Rubbish? Why' 'Bad shops. No Marks and Spencers'

If I had known that earlier I would have had good news for him. I was told just now (by a prospective house buyer) that we are to have a Marks and Sparks opening next month. When the word spreads to the China Sea and beyond we will be inundated by eager retail tourists anxious to be snapped outside M & S, Argos, Homebase and even, on a slow day, Somerfields.

No longer Lubbish. But desilable. Putting the Yen back into

Ber wick. Shopping Magnet of the North

(The image is from flickr. Marks and Spencers? Yes. Apparently it is the kind of breakfast you can buy in one of their food stores-like the one to be opened here shortly. So we can look forward to organically eager Scottish tourists and caravanners munching away on these in their cars outside M & S. Can't we?)

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Entre Deux Mers(e)

So we have a new house in Duns. All ours from 10 October as long as we can get the specie to the right place before the right time. But now the hard bit. The Old Manse is on the market and we are living in a brochure-or rather trying to live up to a brochure. We already have had one prospective buyer poking around and another is coming tomorrow. They will already have Knight Frank's puff http://www.knightfrank.co.uk/webuk/flash/search.aspx )_-either the hard copy brochure or scanned the website from where these images have been taken. Advice on the hard sell rings in our ears:

(a) Sun to shine
(b) Garden to look neat and tidy
(ditto house)
(c) Smell of baking bread in Kitchen
(d) Fire blazing in sitting room (in the fireplace, ideally)
(e) Fresh flowers at strategic places.
(f) Match the brochure if possible

Saturday went well-sun on cue especially and as we had only just returned from Norn Iron we had not had the time to make a real mess but as time goes on it will be increasingly difficult to leave the sitting room looking as if HM the Q is expected at any moment and the Dining Room laid for a posh dinner party involving the Lord Lieutenant and two members of Legs and Co. As for the Bedroom. Sleeping in a stage set has never come easy and it gets tiresome to have to make the bed look like exhibit one from MR John Lewis' 'Bridal Collection' as soon as we have vacated our pit.

One small scare was the dumping of the most massive amount of slurry on the old Glebe Field immediately behind the house by the nearer Farmer C. People who have a rather idealised view of living in the countryside sometimes find such aromas challenging. But with a brisk wind from the south nary a waft came our way-doubly fortunate as we had no baking bread on line to mask other odours.

And then of course there is coping with the Wife's profile of the ideal buyer. No Developers need apply. Organic gardening, bird loving, charity supporting, Lib Dem/Green party,environmental huggers, Guardian readers only. And if they come roaring up Kirk Lane in a gas guzzling Beamer or tastefully metallic green Chelsea Tractor they can jolly well go roaring back again. Says she.

The wife is away until tomorrow evening. Fascist developers-Times readers, BMW and Fake Barbours now's your chance.

Carpe Diem

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Sunday, September 23, 2007
Not over my live body

'Concerned' (name and address supplied but not to Jock public) writes movingly to the Berwickshire:

,- As a resident of Eyemouth’s most recent housing estate at Acredale, I wish to lodge my concerns at the recent allocation of rented accommodation adjacent to our development.
Whilst purchasing my house I was assured that affordable housing was being built nearby as an alternative to the private development.
You could imagine my shock and horror to the news that Berwickshire Housing has allocated the majority of the houses to single parent families, drug users, and unemployed.
Quite simply I fail to see how most of these families would be in a position to purchase their house in the long term future or indeed would want to do so anyway.
I would have thought Berwickshire Housing would have wanted to place more emphasis on creating a more family orientated environment to complement the existing similar development but it seems all they are interested in is collecting the rent money from the government.
I suppose though it limits their chances of tenant arrears.
With property prices in Eyemouth rising higher than anywhere else in the country I wonder how the next generation are going to make the step onto the property ladder.
This affordable housing was a way for many to make the big step but it seems the local authorities do not wish to help.
Perhaps Berwickshire Housing can advise how many working two parent families were actually allocated houses in the new development.
In addition I wager that most of their new tenants will be receiving some form of government benefits.
As for our own estate how many vacant properties will be sold once people are aware of the true facts of the affordable housing.
If I was Wimpey I would put on hold their plans for another 100 houses.
The message in Eyemouth is plain to see if you want your own home, work hard and hope you are fortunate to afford a £150,000 mortgage or the alternative is to become unemployed, get an addiction, have more kids and get the new house that many dream of.

I suspect that this is not just representative of an Eyemouth-centric prejudice but of a wider sentiment in the Berwickshire community. At a meeting of the H&P community council to discuss local low cost housing needs-if any as someone put it- we were treated to a tirade from the floor about the likely recipients of cheap properties-never local-but Glasca based disreputable, unemployable, gay and lesbian, alchoholic, drugcrazed,
disabled(by implication through self harm)forrin, ethnic ( ie dark forrin) over breeding families. We could never walk the streets in safety again nor live without constant fear of assault in the homes we could only dream of.

Single parents were not included by the gentleman in question as it happened but no doubt he would have listed them in his Pantheon of undesirables had he not lingered too long at The Cross preparing his After Lager address.

So where should such unfortunate people live? Have we not a responsibilty to our less well off fellow citizens?

'Fellow Citizens?' Snort. 'Send them back to Romania or Portugal (if the management of the fish farming plant can spare them)' Or the Gorbals-much happier in a city environment if you ask me.' Second snort more liquid than the first.

Miss Mary Mack-take a letter to the Berwickshire

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Saturday, September 22, 2007
Or Somewhere else in Lieu

I don't want to start a mass comfort flash mob dash in Ber Wick but it is good to confirm reports that the Gents at the Maltings no longer requires a key from reception attainable by bone fide customers only-no bring me your huddled masses yearning for a pee here-or at least that was the case.Now you can march in, down two flights, unzip and what a relief.

One guy will be interested, and irritated by this welcome change of heart by management (Women to a man, as it were, and ladies loos had no such security; sexist that) This was the bloke observed by a friend desperately scrabbling at the door, key less and cross legged) He suddenly said 'sh*t' grabbed his unmentionables and rushed cross legged up the stairs in search of the key. (Its quite difficult climbing stairs in that manner-try it in the privacy etc etc) According to my friend, judging from the geography of emerging staining of the man's pantaloons, 'sh*t' was merely an expletive

not a description.

In his rage he did apparently make reference to not darkening the doors of the Maltings again.

Doors rather than floors, hopefully.

For that relief. Much thanks.

Perhaps other bloggers could report on available facilities in the area. This might result in slash mobs rather than flash ones-but the latter could be appropriate amongst a certain type of clientele.

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Friday, September 21, 2007
Its That Old Manse again

Knight Frank are selling an Old Manse which looks remarkably like Huttonian's. Worth a look-scroll down the page to the second property. And if ever there was a moment to get your pennies out of Northern Rock and put them into Borders' Stone.

It is now


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Grey Mare's Tail Waterfall
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Its not the Mournes, not even Norn Iron but the Grey Mare's Tail waterfall, owned by the National Trust, is one of the most spectacular sights in the Borders (just in) and is off the Moffat Selkirk road below St Mary's Loch. You don't have to be a wild goat to get up the path to enjoy the view.

But it would help

Goats can always get to parts of the mountainside denied to humans-and in their case it probably helps that they can't read.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007
We were privileged to have four American tourists beside us in the luxury of Stena Plus. As we left Belfast they were stridently moaning about the miserable weather they had had in the West of Ireland. All the way over they talked about the glories of Scotland and the sunny golf they would enjoy at St Andrews (PBUI)THey had apparently been at Newcastle ten days ago and couldn't get on the course because of the God Damn Walker Cup. Why hadn't the God Damn Travel guy warned them for puking out loud? Then they had been overcharged at Portmarnock, duped at the Dooks, soaked at Lahinch, lost their balls in Connemara etc etc.

We docked at Stranraer. They were travelling by bus-God Damn Rentals -too something, too something else, expensive. They had to walk to the terminal to recover their luggage and pick up a bus.

It is quite a long way

It was pouring

Welcome to Scotland.

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The blog is on the move today and unless we can find a hotspot in Kirkudbright radio silence will be maintained until arrival in Hutton latish Friday.
If we are spared of course
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
  Kirkcudbright Broughton House

Kirkcudbright Broughton House
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Post below was wrong. Flickr has images of Kirkudbright. Well ,one apparently. Old Grey Wolf of course has been there and done it. I had unintentionally given Kirkudbright and extra K and baffled Flickr
Kirkkudbright. The unseen town

Sadly we leave Norn Iron tomorrow to return to the Merse and to get into the property market(sales) in earnest. We will be breaking our journey at Kirkkudbright-the ght are as silent as w in Berwick. Sadly Flickr has no images of Kirkudbright so you will have to use your imagination. Think Artists, galleries, exhibitions and nearby ice cream factories. And you will get the picture.

As it were



Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
This is the image referred to in the post immediately below. Unusually there may even be a person in the picture. Only Hutton main street can be so empty, so often
today's Mourne Observer on line publishes an invitation to the good people of Newcastle to join in a beach clean up at Murlough along Dundrum Bay. The image is from the paper indicating for most observers that of all the beaches in the UK this one is least in need of a litter clearing operation. Mainly because of most beaches in the UK it is often deserted, even at the height of summer (or the depth in 07)and it is very rare to see anything other than a pristine beach. No matter, any excuse for a visit to Murlough on a day like today should be accepted.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stalker and his Alsatian ball finder emerged from behind the 15th tee on the Royal County Down (PBUI) championship course as my partner and I were approaching the 14th Green.This was a very strange, indeed novel, point of entry for them as with a house just beside the 2nd green on the Annesley Course they were away off station. They watched us drive with great anticipation at the 15th standing in a sort of bog hole to the left of the fairway in which, as I watched, Stalker had already found at least two balls. We wondered what he does with his collection which must be immense-makes no attempt to sell to the golfers on the course. Perhaps he feeds the Dundrum Car Boot sale at weekends. Anyhow to day we drove straight and far past them and Ally's tail drooped a bit; wondering perhaps where his next bone was coming from.

Later I asked a guy in the Pro's shop if he bought balls from Stalker. 'Oh? Is he still around? I thought we had seen the last of him' He said. 'Why so? ' 'I had heard he had sold his house and garden at the 2nd and moved on' Got a tidy sum too-£1.5 million!'

1.5 million! And he still looks for golf balls!

There's the Norn Iron work ethic for you.

(The image is the drive from the 11th tee. The gorse to the right up the hill is a favourite happy hunting ground for Stalker and Ally)

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Parts of Norn Iron are property hotspots-Newcastle being a case in point: £1.74m for the local Rectory is a bit out of the Old Manse league (see image-not as pleasing as the Manse and with about the same amount of land so it will be down with the old and at least 6 villas in its place). The fastest growing area-in Norn Iron and in the top three in the UK is North Down and especially around Strangford Lough. One image shows the lough near Whiterock-the whole coastline is festooned with sailing boats from gin palaces to humble dinghies and their proud owners seem to be buying up most of the habitable land for their villas. Strangford is supposed to have 365 islands many of which are now being linked to the shore by causeways or bridges and then built over; fierce notices warn of Private Property-plebs keep out.

People keep on saying that incomers to Strangford are paying silly prices so the local posh fish restaurant at least has an appropriate name.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

prom new 002
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Looking again at old_greywolf2000's flickr image of a warning notice on the post modern Promenade at Newcastle, Norn Iron, Huttonian is struck at the cautious, almost kill joy approach behind the Water Safety Informtion notice-of which there are about 5 altogether. No Life Guards on duty. Well fair enough. If you are postively discouraged from going into the water, Life Guards are a bit superflous. Strong Currents? Indeed Sir, but over a mile out to sea.This is a shallow sheltered bay.

Slippery rocks. Ooddles of them as the building of the new prom wall has sucked the sand away for about 200 metres.

But NO WAVE DODGING! Is there to be no fun anymore? Just stand there like a good Presbyterian and let the waves hit you. Dodge and you will pay for it. Not an Inch. No Surrender. Ulster Still Says No

to wave dodging and inflatables

at any rate.
  Newcastle & the Mountains of Mourne

Newcastle & the Mountains of Mourne
Originally uploaded by Matt Fairview
In case you are interested there are 1700 plus images of the Mountains of Mourne on Flickr. This is surprisingly few for such an eye catching region but is about ten times as many as for the Scottish Borders. I like this one from Matt Fairview as it is somewhat misleading. In our experience Newcastle like Hutton is not a wet place. We have been here 12 days on this visit abd the first rain we have had has been today. Yet people persist in claiming (and the comments on this picture are no exception) that Ireland is rainy. And the caption on the image asks 'Is that rain coming down the hills?. Probably not. Just a Merse like Dreich. Or as they would say here;

it's a wee mist.
Saturday, September 15, 2007


I ran into an old friend in Newcastle yesterday-fortunately neither of us were in cars. She had inadvertently 'cut' me on the golf course and explained that she had been a bit distracted. She had spent the statutory 5 minutes allowed under the rules looking for her ball on the 2nd fairway and also in the adjoining rough. She was just about to give up and play another when a sudden thought came to her.

She had forgotten to drive.

I suppose that may happen to all of us. But perhaps not to Tiger Woods.

His caddy will remind him. No doubt

I am out of images of the 2nd fairway. So instead I offer the tee shot at the 3rd played by a prominent local player

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Friday, September 14, 2007
I have some sympathy with the letter to The Berwickshire

Dr Ross Cameron of NHS Borders must be one of the few people in Scotland who admire the current Out of Hours arrangements (OOH).
Only 11 % of of GPs think the service has improved, Audit Scotland believes OOH is unsustainable and one in five users of the service were dissatisfied. Now we hear that high risk patients are more likely to die the longer the ambulance trip.
In the old days when you needed medical help during the night you called your local GP. He either gave you advice or came to see you; if you needed an ambulance he sent for one. That is a good system and one that still operates in some blessed areas.
Under OOH you ring a call-handler at NHS24, who will pass you to a Nurse Adviser at NHS24, who may pass you to a Nurse Adviser at NHS Borders, who may pass you to a doctor who may then give you advice, ask you to drive through the night to an emergency centre, or in extremes travel 30 miles to see you - if you have not by then expired. That is a poor system.
Patients have no difficulty in seeing the difference between one and the other. Why can Dr Cameron not see it.

I am
not sure who Dr Cameron is unless he is Dr Finlay's partner from a Beeb series of years ago but I am with the writer judging purely from my own experience of a massive nosebleed last February. And while the sauce flowed I could hear the wife being passed on from Nurse Adviser, to Depute Nurse Adviser, to Senior Nurse Adviser and finally to duty Doctor-I heard my date of birth at least 5 times, our address, a summary of past conditions, and finally, with the greatest of reluctance-or so it seemed through my red mist, the non-urgent ambulance was dispatched to take my remains to the BGH. Its lack of urgency included refusal to navigate Kirk Lane and I was forced to stagger through mud and drizzle (at one am) to the Village Hall where the NUA was parked.Not the best night of my life

At the time I felt it might by the last.

Habitual bloggees will know the story.(February Archives reveal all in, literally, gory detail)

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Norn Iron troubles are (mostly) history but their memory lingers on with the symbols of the past-the Union Flags, the Red,White and Blue kerbs, The Red Hand of Ulster, the para military banners, the Irish Tricolor-Tribes with flags indeed as any Middle Eastern region. Most striking are the huge graffiti in the form of vast murals in the Nationalist and Loyalist areas-most notably the Shankill and the Falls. Here you can see two of each.

And the Middle East is indeed represented with the identity of the Palestinian cause with that of the Nationalists and you can find Israeli symbols in some Loyalist areas along the so called Peace Line which is now something of a tourist attraction.

But certainly changed significantly since the days when a tourist found himself in the Falls Road at midnight, Alone and lost. A gun was poked in his back and a voice said ' Catholic or Protestant?' 'I I I I am JJJ Jewish' he stammered 'Well' came the reply' aren't I the luckiest Arab in Belfast!'

And on another occasion the follow up demand was ' Yes. But Catholic Jew or Protestant Jew'

No Neutrals in those days.

And not many now.

(Thankyou Belfast Bloggee for this link:
http://www.gransha-taxi.co.uk/Belfast-airport-taxis.htm )

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SIR, - With the passing of the 9th Duke of Buccleuch it is worth recording, what few in Berwickshire will ever have known, that in 1993, when the then Government conceived the disastrous scheme to take Berwickshire out of the Borders and to join us with East Lothian, it was in no small measure due to the Duke of Buccleuch, then Lord Lieutenant of Roxburghshire, Ettrick and Lauderdale, whose powerful, but highly confidential, lobbying with the Scottish Office, finally frustrated this very unpopular idea.
For this Berwickshire should forever be most grateful.

reads a letter in today's Berwickshire from another former Lord Lieutenant. Last sentence: Amen to that says Huttonian. Just imagine if we had been part of East Lothian, who would have been our MSP.

Yes. The Laird.

Thankyou late Duke.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thank Goodness Dogs can't Fly in Norn Iron

In Hutton we have problems over dog poo. In Berwick people complain about mobbing by seagulls. In Norn Iron, in the shadow of the Mournes these two irritations are combined into one: Birds who crap from a great height. The problem lies in one housing estate and is reported in today's Mourne Observer with some relish under the headline : NIABY (Not in any body's back yard) The Kilmorey Court Des Res' are directly under power lines favoured by the local birds as a comfort station. Back yards directly underneath are showered with 'bird excrement'and especially one yard which has been favoured by Northern Ireland Electricity(NIE) with its largest pole-a favourite perch for the crap happy.

NIE blame the developers for building over ground zero under the main power network servicing Kilkeel. The guana covered residents blame NIE and no one has yet come up with a solution: bird deflectors, sticky pads, Bird nappies(?) are apparently not '100 ' successful and there is 'no long term solution'

Apart from moving house, of course

' A bit of Bird Poo on your hand is worse than two squirts on a bush' runs a local proverb

(The image is of a Heron just below Huttonian Cottage on the sea front. Possibly considering looking for a nice comfort stop on power cables further south. Bad luck on those beneath as it has an impressive pay load.)

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Huttonian came across this ancient image of the strand at Newcastle, Norn Iron as published in last weeks Mourne Observer-County Down's answer* to the Berwickshire
Could it have been a young Huttonian on the Donkey? No. He despised such girly pursuits but he did, once,perform in the 'Bandstand' which can be seen on the old Promenade. This was 'amateur night' and I must have been 12. What did I do? Sing? Dance' Tell risque stories? You know I have no recollection except I remember the audience vividly. An old lady (must have been at least 45 in a fur hat) A soldier in uniform, A woman with a pram and two giggling friends. (mine) Thats them

Oh Yes, an off duty Donkey.

Did it bray in appreciation of my wit? Tune? Dance? No, but I do remember how it showed its reaction.

It crapped.

My friends found this amusing and comments about playing the ass got a bit tedious.

(* What is the question? Blog-ed)

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But the Melody Lingers On

Up way before Seagull burp and to the Royal County Down (PBUI) Game plan was to play 2nd 9 of Championship course seeing that a bus load of Yanks on its-Tuesday-so-it-is Newcastle-Golfing tour of the Emerald Isle were intent on monopolising the first tee.
Foiled after two holes as a green keeper firmly and politely told me that the 2nd 9 was closed until 9-30-this was 8-10 so having finished the 11th (yes a 4 since you ask) I transferred my attentions to the Annesley Course. Easier said than done as the contractors who had so rapidly erected a field of cloth and gold: marquees, His and Hers Portaloos, Hamburger joints, ice cream vans, scoreboards viewing platforms, grand stands were being very slow at dismantling them. Only the BBC had folded its tents and stolen silently away with their 42 plus vans and Hazel Irvine. Thus the first four holes and the last three were unplayable and I had to start at the 6th and toil along behind the B Team Green Keepers as they mowed tees, erected today's tee markers, kicked polystyrene coffee cups out of sight into the gorse bushes and changed the position of the holes on each green. All seemed glum, adrenalin of the Big Event drained away and too plugged into I-Pods to have much inclination to chat.

One of the older green staff leaned long enough on his rake to respond to my words of praise on the condition of the course. 'Yes' he said' looked lovely on the Telly. All lush and green like' ' Didn't you walk round and watch the golf?' I enquired.' Watch the golf? Whatever for? ' I thought you would be interested after all your hard work?' I ventured. ' Would have had to walk-couldn't take that' gesturing towards his ATV Golf Cart. 'And anyhow' He added, spitting into a gorse bush.

'Don't really like the game'

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Monday, September 10, 2007

I did not hang around to witness these moving scenes of US triumphalism after their narrow win at the Royal County Down (PBUI) yesterday. Last time they won away from home was in 1991 at Portmarnack, also in Ireland. So perhaps thought should be given to having it elsewhere in the British Isles where GB and I might do a bit better.

Somewhere easier perhaps.

The course today is reserved for VIP guests with hangovers, top brass of the Royal and Ancient and the No 2 course is also unplayable by ordinary mortals as they dismantle the temporary infrastructure-marquees, loos, fast food outlets and get rid of the 42 BBC vans thought essential for mounting an outside broadcast. The R and A massive marquee with its bar, coffee shop and 24 TV monitors was the ideal place for watching the matches-certainly better view than from the course which looked even more magnificent on TV through the bottom of a gin glass. Judging from the state of some of the more decrepit members by 6pm yesterday that was how they had spent the past two days gazing in adoration at the delectable Hazel Irvine and with increasing despondancy at Rory McIlroy and his teammates.

To lose on Home Soil and at the Royal County Down.

That's double jeopardy for you

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Sunday, September 09, 2007
SIR, - Regarding F.A. Read-Powell’s letter about fedding the seals, I resent the insinuations that the flotsam, jetsom and oil comes from the leisure boats below.
As the owner of such a boat I take care not to pollute the water in the harbour..
If they look at rubbish in the harbour, it is plain to see where it comes from.

reads a letter in this week's Berwickshire. Methinks the man doth protest too much. Of course his wretched 'leisure' boat pollutes. It can't help it- every time it's engine is switched on. And as for looking at the rubbish in the harbour too closely...It may be all too plain where some of it comes from-perhaps in some cases from enjoying the conveniences offered by leisure boating, as it were.

Fedding the seals? Arcane pastime of some kind? Much better to give them food I would have thought.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007


The Highheidyins of the Royal and Ancient/Royal County Down (Double PBUT) were quite serious about forbidding the use of cameras by the 10,000 or so spectators who infested the links this morning.In consequence Huttonian had no choice but to borrow two images from the BBC website of golfers in action during a practice section including the local hero, 18 year old Rory McIlroy who plays off a handicap of plus 6* In fact photography would have been difficult given the huge turnout and hard to get near to the action around the greens-gates I suspect were closed in mid morning for non ticket holders. And despite being a week end Newcastle itself was very quiet-fin de saison. I did actually see one person with a camera photographing a gorse bush a long way from the action. And there was no sign of Stalker and his ball finding Alsatian-although he will be out after dark on the off chance that a golf ball lost in practice may be findable in some remote gorse bush or clump of heather.

And miraculously the rule about no mobile phones was apparently upheld. Norn Ironers are law abiding folk on such solemn occasions.

* Is this good? Blog-ed

Yes, even better than Huttonian in his prime.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

I am indebted to our Dinger house guest for this image of Newcastle taken half way up Slieve Donard this morning-he went straight up the hill after breakfast It is wonderful what a bowl of Muesli does for you.

Beyond Newcastle town you can see the links of the Royal County Down. What you can't quite see, even on the largest magnification is the US team at practice. Nor hear a strange distant noise: the wind that shakes the Barley?No.. Its the Americans.

quivering in their boots*

* Golf Shoes, surely? Blog-ed.

Later we had a meal at Mario's-a few yards from the Huttonian Homestead. There was the entire US team. Relaxed and confident. Average age seemingly about 14. Steaks and fruit juice. No WAGS in attendance.

It might be a mistake to underestimate them.

Report tomorrow. Cameras banned so no images.

If I am spared of course.

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ENGLAND (also Wales, Scotland and Ireland) EXPECTS

and hopefully they will be up to the task tomorrow on the Royal County Down (PBUI)in wresting the Walker Cup back from the Yanks. The images show a prominent local player in action-a surprise ommission frpm the GB and I team-whose cunning and experience may be sadly missed
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Borders is a safe place to live is the headline in today's electronic Berwickshire. As seen fron Norn Iron where crime has increased since the end of the 'Troubles' this seems self evident. Just compare the offences dealt with by Sheriff Kevin of Duns with the wide range of really serious crime reported in the County Down press which carry several pages of offences including in this week's Mourne Observer a Samurai sword wielding guy running amok in a local pub. In this case the assailant was so intoxicated that he could not make any sense until the following day. Being value conscious Norn Iron he may well have been complaining about being overcharged for his two pints of Guinness and a packet of fags. A crime passionelle by local standards

THE Scottish Borders had one of the lowest recorded number of housebreakings in Scotland in the past year, a Scottish Government report has revealed.
The region saw only 14 break-ins per 10,000 of the population, with only the Shetland Islands, Western Isles and Orkney Islands seeing fewer properties being illegally entered for 2006/2007.
The national average for Scotland was 40 per 10,000, with Aberdeen witnessing the highest number of reported cases of housebreaking, with 82 per 10,000.
The Scottish Borders was also below the national average for other crimes. Four serious assault's per 10,000 of the population took place compared to a Scottish average of 13, while incidents of carrying an offensive weapon were at 11, nine below the medium.
Cases of vandalism were recorded at 173 within the area, with a typical Scottish region recording 238.
A number of other crimes recorded - such as sexual crimes of violence and crimes of dishonesty - were also less likely to occur in the Borders than the majority of other Scottish district's.
Lothian and Borders Police Divisional Commander Charles Common said: "This is a good news story for the Borders. It confirms that this is one of the safest parts of the country to live in.
"Figures reflect both the support we receive from the public and the hard work of my staff."

Fishwick Special Branch are considering either voluntary liquidiation or going over to traffic duties

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Newcastle is all geared and dolled up for the Walker Cup. The prize winning neo-modern Promenade runs the full length of the town, steel lamp standards and the odd crystal ball gleaming in the September sun. A tubular steel bridge connects both halves of the town where the old castle used to stand. And in the margins of all this fine new development are a series of notices warning you (in effect) to keep out of the sea. Mind you the effect of the new promenade has been to denude the once glorious beach of sand and it is now a mass of slippery shingle. I have no problem about this as the water is bitterly cold but to warn about strong currents in sheltered Dundrum Bay is a bit OTT. Seaweed yes, jellyfish certainly, nary a life guard indeed. But currents? More of those in Maud's delicious scones than in Dundrum Bay.

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Diplomacy at its best

An expat Aussie bloggee has sent me the following link about how a certain Oz diplomat got himself, innocently, into some embarrassing situations through abuse of language:


I managed ,as a Brit Dip, to avoid such embarrassments but could have got myself into a rare old pickle when a young Political Officer in the then Aden Protectorates. My Arabic was at a very rudimentary stage and on one occasion concluding a rather halting conversation with the local Sheikh-or Sultan to be more accurate I urged him not to forget something-'. La Tizni ya Sultan Ahmed' I said-too late I realised that I should have said 'La tinsah' -'La tizni' meaning 'don't commit adultery'

He looked a bit startled and then replied in excellent English 'That's excellent advice'

The wife went one better at a diplomatic function in Dubai rushing up with a bloke to a women she had also just met saying-'you two must meet, you will have so much in common'

'We have' said the American Ambassador 'We are married'


Tuesday, September 04, 2007
So here we are on the HSS Stena blogging at sea courtesy of the Club Lounge connection-slightly slower than dial up and erratic-but it is blogging at sea, a first for Huttonian, and probably a last. We failed to get our usual sea view from the front row as we were left well behind in the mad rush from the car deck to the lounge-no way past a posse of Coleraine Builders emerging from their black Beamers, line abreast and humming the Sash. Anyhow it is very murky outside and the view will be better observed through a glass lightly-cold Chablis*-compliments of Stena.

So it is not all bad.

One of the Builders has asked the waitress where he can smoke. No Smoking Policy he was told. But surely on that wee bit of open deck beside the Truckers Lounge? Not even there. After a few minutes of muttering, swearing and twitching he headed for the deck.

Not to smoke, probaly. But

To throw himself off.

(* Chardonnay, actually. Blog-ed)


Monday, September 03, 2007

1776 avenged

So tomorrow it is a drive across Scotland and Stenaing to Norn Iron. Once more to Newcastle-this time to watch the ritual humiliation of the Yanks in the Walker Cup. Read all about at http://www.royalcountydown.org/ Follow the Walker Cup links(No pun intended)
Huttonian hopes to be able to upload stunning images of the world's best amateur golfers on the world's best golf course.

If we are spared, of course (not another pun intended)

The images above should be enough to send the American's back home 'to think again'. The golfer near the top of the bunker* (to us-to them sand trap) is enjoying traditional RCD (PBUI) hospitality in one of our smaller depressions (click on image for full horror) and the other image is of the 9th from halfway through your drive path. Don't ask Tiger Wood how much he took here on his practice round a few years back. For US morale reasons his (eventual-after two recounts) score is

highly clasified.

* No Deidre of Dresden: Hitler's was different

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Sunday, September 02, 2007
  Bigger actually

I believe
Originally uploaded by erase
Mr P and the huge Salmon which got away. Thank you Erase.

Its not often that the Tweed is a glassy calm as in this image

Who Will Guard the Guardians?

is the rough translation of a familiar Latin tag so beloved of tweed jacketed Prep School teachers and senior mandarins in HM Civil Service (surely another oxymoron). Dave the Paper of famous memory who used to bring our papers every morning claimed that there were only two Grudian readers in these 'ere parts within his extensive beat. Since his departure we have had to flog into B-u-T to pick up the Gerdien and (for a neighbour) the English edition of the Daily Mail-an increasing rare commodity as you penetrate further north. But within easy walking distance of our-small-house-in-Duns there are two newsagents piled up to the ceiling with Gerdgians and as many English editions of the Daily Mail that you could shake a Zimmer frame at. If you judge a society* by the papers it reads, culturally up market we appear to be going. At last. And one does mean


( *And not just a society. It was said of the famous up market Guardian reading- courtesan Christine Keeler-ask your father- that she used several Mirrors while enjoying lots of Mails and as many Times as she could get. And she was always happy to have an Observer)

A bloggee asks why is Ms Keeler not perusing the Guardian in this image? Perhaps she is? Much like the bloke who was asked by a fellow passenger on GNER 'Excuse me Sir. Are you reading the paper you are sitting on?'

If you can have eyes in the back of your head........

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Saturday, September 01, 2007
  Dun parking?

duns parking
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
One is tempted to comment 'Who is counting?'. This is from the main car park in Duns-empty apart from us, today-Saturday. How the sixty hours is calculated is not explained-no ticket machine-no paid parking in Duns even for cars from south of the Border.
Is it a joke? They don't seem to do that kind of joking in Duns-serious folk from serious Reiver stock.

Hutton Think Tank (in collaboration with Fishwick Special Branch)is working on similar draconian restrictions for the main Hutton Car park outside the Village Hall. It can be under pressure(Takes three cars or Bill J's large van). especially after heavy rain and the rest of the area in front of the Kirk is knee deep in mud.

Informed sources say that the time limit is likely to be less than 60 hours. A rule of thumb might be the time that the average pensioner takes to draw it in cash and decide not to buy a First Class Stamp.

60 seconds.

Habitues of the Old Manse my have a problem recognising these images taken as prepared for a visit by a professional photographer who is to produce a Glossy Brochure as part of the sales campaign being launched by Knight Frank whose clients presumably include Middle Eastern British ex-pats, Russian oligarchs, senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party, Mumbai Call Centre Magnates, retired arms salesmen and a cross section of WAGS are just dying to get their hands on a Des Res in the dynamic Borders. Anyone who wants pretension and Pillars we will direct towards Fishwick-on-Tweed and its neo Sunningdale McMansions.

The wife is most anxious that the house will not fall into the wrong hands: the ideal purchaser is a caring, Guardian reading, bird loving, organic gardener who will not have the windows cleaned or the gutters cleared until the last migrating bird has vacated its nest and headed south, and the final lingering Starling has moved into winter quarters-nor will ever contemplate using Agent Orange on the driveway in preference to picking up the grass and dandy lions, lovingly, by hand.The ideal is for the RSPB and Borders Organic Gardeners Inc is to join forces and use the Old Manse as their Scottish HQ. The stable block would make a good alternative quarters for the Hutton Think Tank who are away in arrears with their rent having invested too many resources into their own glossy publication: Hutton: Globalisation and the Environment: the Next Ten Years It has not sold well and is already being remaindered by Amazon.

We did such a good job of titivating four main rooms in the Old Manse we almost get the impression that we have moved already into unfamiliar surroundings.

When I awoke from a deep sleep this morning, for a moment, I had no idea where I was.

It was rather nice, actually

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