Musings from the Merse
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Borders Deserta

It is quite a challenge to find much about Duns in Guide Books about Scotland-usually dismissed with a one liner about Duns Scotus and off to Coldstream famous for the birthplace of the Guards Regiment, and er, that's it. Kelso, Jedburgh, Melrose get good write ups but poor old Berwickshire is just a place you pass through on the way to Embra from Durham and Geordieland. At least the Scottish Tourist Board website has a few words to say:

Duns and surrounding area
Formerly the county town, Duns still retains the air of an old Scottish burgh with its spacious Market Square. Make the most of the commanding views afforded by Duns Law, rising 714 feet above sea level. Walkers can also enjoy the trails of the 190-acre Duns Castle Nature Reserve.

Duns is recognised by the Catholic Church as the birthplace, around 1266, of John Duns Scotus, the medieval scholar who taught at the University of Paris. A bronze statue of Duns Scotus stands in the public park.

The Jim Clark Museum in Duns is devoted to the late world champion racing driver of the 1960's from Chirnside.

Nearby is Manderston House, the setting for channel 4's 'Edwardian Country House', with its sumptuous silver staircase and insight into life above and below the stairs. Local villages offer countryside walks to work up an appetite and award winning restaurants and pubs for a spot of lunch or dinner.

Damning with a bit of faint praise. Dun's famous son-Mark Two-is actually from Chirnside and it is apparently just the Catholic Church which recognises Famous Son Mark One as being a Dinger. (Islamic jurisprudence is silent on this point) That leaves a market place and Manderston which is infrequently open to the public and closed all Winter. And some people might not be attracted by the 'air of an old Scottish Burgh' which are too often grey, gloomy and somewhat forbidding. ' Its a Grand day' said the enthusiastic old lady to the Wee Free Minister.' Aye. It is. And we will pay for it' That sort of thing.

Hutton Think Tank-media and spin section-has been commissioned to produce something more appealing than the VisitScotland' spiel. Which will actually attract people and make it rank with other favourite locations in 'Scotland's Favourite Short Break Destination':

'Forty Minutes in Duns'



Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Last Orders Please

Just when you think you have tidied up the house for the last time you have another set of viewers-as we did on Sunday. After a bit you get to recognise the time wasters-roar around, don't ask any questions, either about the house or the locals, but admire your rugs, sniff when you mention that some of the furniture Will be left behind and usually have hyperactive children running riot too near the flimsy Broadband connection. And this category go around the garden with the greatest reluctance as their Gucci loafers soak up the heavy dew from the meadow (aka back lawn). The Sunday bunch were of 'it's 1130 it must be Hutton' variety' They had, like the others, run the gamut of Old and Auld Manses and were on their way to admire a Mc Mansion not too far from Fishwick (I warned them to allow time becuase of the traffic) They were also from the south -being relocated to Scotland by ssome huge multi national-money to burn, it seems, and I suspect it will be the McMansion, with its stables, its pillars and room for 3 Range Rovers which will see the colour of their money. For the horsey fraternity we can offer a carriage house and adjoining stalls, complete with original features including hay troughs and a genuine cobbled floor. I am not sure how many Polo ponies in a String but we can accommodate three horses and up to 6 Shetlands if they don't mind standing on each other*. And we also have an outside loo amongst the nettles-a feature absent from most Mc Mansions.

Closing date-7th November.


The image is not (r) not of our pond but of the Tweed, just down the road.

* Only the Shetlands need to stand on one another-the Polo ponies can have a stall each

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Planning: Power to the People?

Rarely there are cases of concerted community action frustrating inappropriate development in the Borders. One was the successful campaign a few years back to stop, in its tracks, a somewhat devious scheme to concrete over a large field adjoining Paxton village. Not only to prevent the development in question but to keep it out of the newly drafted and approved Local Plan. Full marks to the Community Council, especially its ad hoc planning sub committee and a number of public spirited Paxtonians.

More recently, like the other day, an unpopular planning proposal near Hutton Castle was suddenly withdrawn. Much smaller in scale than the Paxton one-four houses only-it did cause a lot of local resentment. Much of it due to its arrival on the scene with no prior warning to (or consultation with)the people most effected. And it was one of those 'in your face' developments on good farming land just across the road from an ancient row of farmer workers cottages whose outlook would have been ruined. Had it gone through (it was for outline permission only)goodness knows what monstrous Mc Mansions might have sprung up. Once outline planning permission is in the bag it is very difficult to influence the type of building that goes up. The disastrous Orchard complex in Paxton is a case in point-and it is also almost impossible to limit the growth of a site, and the number of houses on it, once the first buildings have gone up-the Orchard tells that tale all too well.

Fortunately in this case it was not just a question of ignoring pesky Nimbys. The planning arguments were stacked against the proposal. And in the end common sense broke out and the proposals have been withdrawn. Perhaps it was belatedly realised that in the countryside community relations matter-and should they resurface in a more palatable form one can only hope that the neighbours are brought along as willing accomplices. There are parts of that area where building would be beneficial and acceptable. It would need active neighbourly cooperation. And that is a good thing

In itself.

Have a look at the documents at http://eplanning.scotborders.gov.uk/publicaccess/tdc/DcApplication/application_searchresults.aspx

Four plots involved-work it out for yourself

PS No we have not yet got McMansions quite like those ( Outer Banks, North Carolina)in the Borders. But Cardrona near Peebles and Farmer C (near Traffic Blackspot Fishwick) are trying to put this right.

Not in My Back Yard? Not in anyone's, we say

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cocky olligarchs

Since we arrived ten years ago the bird area has been increasingly dominated by a pair of visiting Pheasants: Cocky and Ollie known by the cognescenti as the Cocky Ollie Birds.
The original Cocky handed in his bird feeder three years ago-was found toes up, cold and stiff amongst the Hollyhocks. His bride of some years vanished and then may have returned with Ollie Mark Two-a shinier and more self confident exotic beast. Mind you it is difficult to tell one hen pheasant from another as they wear better than the males. Now after a period of fairly amiable confrontation Ollie Two has been seen off by the latest young Turk seen here strutting his stuff and eating his fill-when done simultaneously it must surely lead to severe indigestion. But now we suddenly have not one new Ollie as the latest consort but a veritable clutch of female attendants: an Olliegarch, in the jargon. Three in one of the images are hurrying away from the bird food to let their Lord and Master finish his Hors D'Oeuvres and Number Four lurking behind the 'autumn house'.

Perhaps Cocky has gone over to Islam?

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Huttonian moves to Duns with a feeling of increased relaxation after reading the result of a recent 'knife amnesty' in the Borders with no less than 16 weapons handed over in the town: Story in the Berwickshire as follows:

Public hand knives over to police

16 weapons handed over in Duns

Mike WynneBy Simon Duke
POLICE have announced that a total of 25 knifes were handed in to Berwickshire stations during a three week campaign in the Borders.
The Safer Scotland initiative saw police use metal detectors in pubs and sheriff courts throughout the area, while red bins were situated at six police stations for members of the public to hand in any weapons.
A total of 64 knifes were handed in, as well an axe, a scythe, a cleaver and three screwdrivers.
Duns saw 16 knifes handed over, the second highest in the Borders behind Galashiels, while Eyemouth Police Station had nine weapons given up.
Out of a total of 1275 searches made on people in the Borders, none were found with dangerous weapons in their possession.
Mike Wynne, Operations Officer at Hawick Police Station, said: "This three week long campaign under the Safer Scotland banner is part of a number of initiatives we have been involved in.
"The campaign saw hand held metal detectors used outside license premises and courts in various locations. No one was found with a weapon on them, which is very pleasing and shows that the Borders does not experience the problems associated with other areas of the country.
"Red bins were also situated at police stations across the Borders and 64 knifes were disposed of, the majority of which were kitchen knifes."
Galashiels saw the highest number of weapons handed in with 21 knifes, an axe and one cleaver.
Selkirk and Hawick both had eight knifes given up, along with three screwdrivers in Selkirk and one scythe in Hawick.
Lauder Police Station saw two knifes handed in over the three weeks.
Despite no one being caught in possession of a knife during the campaign, those who are found in possession of a weapon are dealt with severely in the courts.
Last week, an Eyemouth man currently in custody was sent to jail for a further five months at Duns Sheriff Court after he was caught last December in the town with an eight inch kitchen knife.

No word of this came to Hutton-certainly never mentioned by the pollis when attending the local community council meetings. I have an axe, a hatchet, a couple of scythes, a panga, at least 12 screwdrivers (Philliphs mostly so not too lethal) and a very large bicycle pump. Must avoid going to the Cross when tooled up, I suppose.

I can't help feeling sorry for a recent immigrant from Cork who mistook the purpose of the amnesty.

She handed in all her kitchen knives.

And can't get them back.

The image is apparently of a weapon not covered by the campaign and is now stuck firmly into pre-Autumnal foliage in the Whiteadder valley. It was nicked from the Fishwick Special Branch armoury some weeks ago together with a pair of Flintlock Muskets from the strategic weapon reserve. Usual rewards apply.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Crooked or stoopid

From the latest Berwickshire News comes this offering from a resident of Reston who,exceptionally, makes no reference to the proposed station.

SIR, - I can only suppose that the planning committee of the Scottish Borders Council is either deeply corrupt or else incapable of distinguishing its nether orifice from the joint between its upper and fore arm.
Why else are its members so keen to cover good farmland with gimcrack but expensive housing estates?
The hideously rapid suburbanisation of the eastern Borders is not providing rentable or affordable housing for young families in villages with access to a local shop, post office and school.
Since employment in the region is noticeable by its absence, the mushroom growth of tacky dwellings must be predicated on the owners commuting to Edinburgh to work - by car - while the household’s second car drives the school run, and the weekly trip to newly established supermarkets (where parking is easier) rather than patronise local shops which, however excellent, will in due course be forced to close.
So who benefits from this? One can only assume that some of the planning committee are discretely bribed by the big property companies to facilitate large-scale developments (which carry the bonus that Scottish Borders Council doesn’t have to fund the installation of the roads and services), while their more clueless fellows are persuaded as there is a shortage of housing these greedy schemes will bring universal prosperity.
Now I thought we urgently need to reduce carbon emissions by sourcing food locally and cutting back on car use - the latter not easy in these parts where scattered small settlements make public transport unprofitable.
People forget that though agriculture collapsed in the 1930s, when war came and importation of food stopped, we were adequately fed because the land could be brought back into use.
Once it has been built over that option vanishes.
Meanwhile increasing demand will cause problems with the water supply, and increased run-off (as there is less ground to absorb surface water) will place an even greater burden on the drainage and sewerage systems - Eyemouth’s woes spring to mind. It is small comfort that no doubt many of the new houses will remain empty, being over-priced, so that the property developers won’t make their expected killing.
But then what? Squatters move in? (Signed sealed and delivered)

Huttonian is not going to accuse our hard pressed planning staff of corruption. Incompetence? Known it happen. My target remains (a few) greedy land owners more interested in concrete than cereals and their willing accomplices the developers. Without the former you would get less of the latter. But if you are asking is there is an element of something approaching corruption within the ranks of our locally elected tribunes of the people, aka SB Councillors and, one means those with less than tenous links to the farming community?

Well, that's another question

A bloggee has asked for an image of a typical prime site for development in the Borders? We modestly offer the above: it has everything going for it; good road links, excellent drainage, easy reach of bustling Hutton and booming Paxton; commutable to Embra and Geordieland. And above all it is very very good agrcultural land. But surely the Building in the Countryside Legislation?......?

Yeah, right.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Master of Ceremonies at the dinner for Medical Aid for Palestinians at the Scottish Parliament last night was unusually entertaining for a medical academic (Professor of General Practice for goodness sake) and at times bordered on the wilder shores of political correctness-even for a Glaswegian.
Huttonian particularily enjoyed his tip on what to do on a wet day in Dundee-pay for something with a £20 note and watch it go through the local economy.

He also mentioned the sad case of a hieland herd who was up in front of the local sheriff for shooting a Golden Eagle. He explained in court that he was on the point of shooting a rabbit when the eagle swept down and plucked up the rabbit and got in the way of the bullet. He got off. Outside the court the Procurator Fiscal ( who had brought the case) asked the defendant-off the record-what he had done with the body of the Eagle. 'I was brought up to eat anything I killed so I did just that' 'Oh. What did it taste like?'

' A sort of cross between a

Perigrine Falcon

and an Osprey'

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

We may have had the last of our viewers through the Old Manse and we are now at the stage of setting a closing date. It will be an enormous relief not to have to show strangers around-and however much you feel that they are likely to be rubbernecking time wasters there is still the compulsion to have yet another frantic tidy up-knitting behind sofas, ironing board out of the posh dining room, crumbs swept off the kitchen table, wood burning stove de-ashed and laid for lighting, central heating turned on, socks kicked under bed and loo seats in the closed position.We have no bidets so there is no need to clean out the mouse droppings-a favourite place for mices apparently.But we do need to conceal the humane mouse traps in case would be purchasers get the impression that we are swarming with rodents.Which we may be.

This last lot-viewers not mice-were of the professional well organised sort. 5 houses in one day on the East Coast and Merse (including, yes, two Old Manses and one Ould) She rather fancied the east. He, was a Westerner, so it would be over to the West Coast tomorrow; but she felt that neither of the two properties their would suit her.But anything would be better than their 9 am call: a very bijou des res-listed, lovely garden, in good nick but with extensive views of the Torness Nuclear Power Station. Apparently the owner was quite enthusiastic about living so near to such a source of clean energy and also reassuring-heavily masked men in space suits checked her garden with Geiger counters every year and had (so far) given her the all clear. Mrs Viewer was highly indignant that Frank Knight (or as she put it Not-so-Frank-Knight) had omitted the Power station from the glossy brochure so I had hastily to confess to the adjoining Rutherford Marshalling Yard to the west-and of course our very quiet neighbours in the church grave yard to the south. Neither mentioned in the brochure but as far as the stiffs are concerned but one assumes most people know that Manses and Kirks go together and where there is Kirk there is human dust never mind the odd urn of interred ashes. However neither source of possible pollution seemed to bother Mr and Mrs Viewer and the two tiny viewers who were entranced by the pond, the frogs and the swing.

Were they interested? Who knows but if they are they will need to extract digits as the closing date is about ten days away.

They went off happy enough. Mrs V still muttering about nuclear power stations, dangers thereof,radio activity, brains sizzling etc.

It would be wrong to suggest that she was incandescent. But certainly

gently humming

(Image is of Torness. We looked at a house near there ten years agp and the departing owner said 'I am getting quite fond of it!

Sweet, really.)

PS I wonder if it is the same house.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Bull and a Cock as well.

If the season is right, like now, with the odd large field lying fallow and cropped by animals, there is no need to flog out to Duns for a spot of golfing practice. Farmer C's big field, beyond the old Glebe field (which is ploughed and therefore too challenging even for a recovery club) is ideal for an intensive practice session. A small drawback -see the image- are the black cows, unusually late in the year, enjoying the pasture. But cows are no real impediment. Tough hides are good protection should one slightly miscue and although there is a small danger of having your favourite Titleist 3 swallowed you will always get it back; eventually. It goes through four stomachs and emerges no worse for wear- certainly nothing that a quick lick and a polish can't take care of.

Setting off with a song in my heart and 20 balls in my pockets I was admiring the black ruminants as I wondered whether to play a 4 or 5 iron. Just before I hit I glanced up to reassess my line when in my peripheral vision I detected a steady if stealthy movement. Out of the ruck of All Blacks a dun brown animal detached itself and was heading in my direction; strange; unusual to mix the species. Well built for a heifer or even a Bullock and behold-swing low sweet chariots-large ones as well.

Satiated it may have been; lethargic possibly but I was not risking any post coital tristesse. Up with the ball and out of the gate.

Closing it very carefully behind me.

Its the 10 miles to Puton Mill Driving Range after all.

(* if you click to enlarge the image and look right you will just see the Brown Job lurking behind one of cows-sadly thecow in question is obscuring his credentials)

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Monday, October 22, 2007
The Mail must get through

Huttonian has posted before about the valiant efforts of Royal Mail, when not on strike, to deliver letters to the Old Manse, back of the sticks, despite the many variations in house names that our correspondents (mostly from south of the Border where Manses are not too common) use: Old Manic, Old Monie, All Monse, Old Moon,Owl's Mummy, Auld Manky, Awl Mace, but invariably the addition of Hutton (that is usually correctly written) makes it easy for Steve the Postie, (or Les on Thursdays), to track us down. The former Minister was uneasy about us using the Old Manse as she was in The Manse-or sometimes known as the new Manse, but in the event, this did not prove to be much of a problem except when we had a rookie Pat on the beat. Now the Manse, New Manse, formerly New Manse etc is empty, the identity crisis, if ever there was one is behind us.

But full marks to Mr Royal Mail. Today, with no fanfare, arrived a smart white A5 envelope addressed to Huttonian at:

2 Upon-Tweed

Fair Doos. Good wine needs no bush.

Where or who one should ask is 1 Upon-Tweed?

Pretentious prat

I hate him already

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Apparently not everybody in the Black Bull in Duns was cheering on South Africa last night. Even some Dingers were dinging their 'a for the white shirts.

Didn't work tho'

And at the Chinese Takeaway : Dish du Jour:

No 15/6

Sweet and Sour Chariot

Oh yes, L'Image. We English take our Rugby very very seriously. But not, quite,as seriously as the French

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Originally uploaded by disgruntled

This image from disgruntled commuter (not so appropriate a title on this occasion, possibly) sums up what Huttonian likes about GNER especially on those rare occasions when I upgrade to First Class after a stressful teaching session in Embra Uni. Coffee or tea, unlimited, come free as do the shortbread biscuits and if you are really determined you can make up the ticket price differential with these freebees-mind you at GNER on board buffet car prices that only means three cups of coffee and two packets of biscuits. . And if you are entitled to the Geriatic Railcard-one cup of tea will almost do it.

Then there is mobile phone. I have overheard some of the most fascinating if one sided conversations on the Embr/Ber Wick leg. Most memorablly a voluble young lady describing to a female friend a zip by zip seduction (by/of) her boy friend. One or two fellow passengers omitted to get off at Dunbar and stayed on to Berwick to make sure of not missing the climax (as it were)of this steamy saga. Sadly for us voyeurs it was still in the foreplay stages by our stop and carrying on to Newcastle would have been a few bridges too far.

I am sure it all ended happily.
It was of course the Quiet Coach and so it wasn't even First Class.

But in these circumstances

Stuff the free coffee.
Friday, October 19, 2007

Over a week ago Huttonian posted about a letter in the Berwickshire wondering whether the recycling system in the Borders was actually working. Here is SBC's response

SIR,- In your letters pages last week, Tim Culham from Greenlaw speculated that separating materials for collection by the council is a waste of time.
I can assure your readers that the bag system adopted by the council works very well. The bags are designed to survive the trip in our collection vehicles and bar one or two all do. The plastic bag is stronger than most (try it!) and is itself recyclable. The material is brought to our transfer stations and sent on to a specialist processing company in north east England for recycling.
Mr Culham may have seen loose cardboard and paper in collection vehicles - this has probably come from trade waste collections on the same route not burst bags. The point of recycling is threefold: it encourages the re-use of precious resources, it prevents the environmental damage of landfill and it saves money. My staff would be pleased to meet with a reporter (and Mr Culham) to show exactly how we manage the process.
Director of Technical Services,
Scottish Borders Council.

We are trying to get collateral from Fishwick Special Branch about an undercover operation they launched to check on the recycling methodology following reports that TRIAD gangs and their Gangmasters were corruptly involved in the recycling trade selling Berwickshire cardboard to Chinese Land Fill sites which have a quota to be met by the opening of the Beijing Olympics . One of the operatives cunningly concealed himself disguised as waste paper (purple bag) to track one of the suspect lorries.

He has not reported back.

That was last Friday

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Thursday, October 18, 2007
On Your Bike Mate

A British minister, Michael Wills has suggested that we should have a national motto to encapsulate our 'Britishness' something which could be incorporated into national documentation like Passports or Death certificates. On our passports we already have a coat of arms and a motto: Dieu et mon Droit (My God You are right?) but it is French and it is the royal motto rather than a people's national one-as Tristam Hunt points out in the Gerdian today.

Perhaps we should run a national competition to select one but it might start better at local level with each community having, if not its own coat of arms, which is just too 14th century, but its own motto on the town sign at the entrance to the area: Some have already : 'Thankyou for Driving Carefully' or in the case of Duns : '20MPH when lights flash' Can't get more uplifting than that. Hutton proclaims 'You are being watched' on a rather aggressive Neighbourhood Watch sign as you come into 'town'.

Hutton Think Tank has been commissioned by Scottish Borders Council (Vision and Local Plan section) to come up with a series of signs appropriate to villages and wee villages indicating the individual charecter of the place and the warmth of the welcome for the first time visitor: ' Paxton. Keep moving' for example. ' ' Fishwick: The Car Free Zone'or the ethnically influenced 'Will Ye NO come back again' Suggestions welcome as always.

The bigger towns already have welcoming signs: 'Coldstream: the First Toon in Scotland'-or the last, thankfully, if you are heading south.Greenlaw 'The Ancient Capital of Berwickshire' 'Ancient' equals ancien: former. Duns now has that honour and should surely greet visitors with 'Duns; twinned with Armageddon: Duns Dings 'A'
Peebles, that poncy pompous pretentious place has an unoffical motto; Paris for business. Peebles for Pleasure. I have never really liked the dump since 10 years ago staying for a week in a self catering flat using it as a base for house hunting, I rang the golf club and asked if I could play a round. I was told


Thank the Lord we did not find a house there.

But my favourite town motto is for Llantrisant Pontyclun in Welsh Wales which is simply known as

The Hole with the Mint in it

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Interesting viewer around the Old Manse yesterday. She was striking (Not in the Rpyal Mail sense) and somehow familiar: Big Brother? Fantasy Island? Top of the Pops? Crime Watch UK? Antique Road Show? Localish. Based in Eccles or thereabouts. Accompanied by her secretary cum driver? Expensive four wheel drive. Strong southern accent. Spent much of the tour talking on her mobile. (To her agent?) Seemed to like the house but issued no statement on her departure. But did say that 'It was lovely and warm 'An unusual comment-mind you she was wearing a very expensive looking sheep skin designer labelled jacket.

Sincerely meant I am sure but she might not have repeated it to day as it was -0.5C when I left for golf at Duns (MPBUI) It was a balmy 0C when I arrived to find the course closed. We asked someone who just arrived after we did (0845) how long it was likely to be off limits. 'Can't tell. Well after nine. Perhaps Ten. Not worth hanging around. If I was you I'd try later ' My partner and I didn't (hang around, that is) but as I drove off I saw the guy heading purposefully towards the First Tee with his self propelled trolley preceding him. Perish the thought, but was he trying to shorten the queue which would inevitably build up pending the opening of the course? Or was he going to head off regardless;

And didn't want any witnesses?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Buy one Video, get a Manse free

'Come in' said Huttonian to the young couple at the door. 'What a nice day for it'. I then went into my familiar routine starting as usual with the kitchen -the view from which, as I explain, persuaded the wife (and therefore me) that this was the house for us.

It was in the master bedroom (stunning views of Mr Rutherford's yard, moulded ceiling, working shutters,traditional Scottish press, en suite down the passage) that the young lady said' Very nice but we came to collect the video. (I had clean forgotten the ancient but working VCR which I had put up for grabs on Berwickshire Freecycle) Oh dear Elderly Moment #67 but in my defence I was expecting a viewer at about the time they came! They were very understanding and asked if they could finish the tour.

The potential purchaser then phoned to say that she was viewing the wrong house (ie got her viewings out of order) but would be along later.

If she does not want the Old Manse there is always the other video


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Despite the alleged down turn in the property market; despite the run on Northern Rock, potential buyers of 'up-market' pied a terres aka Old Manses seem to be around in some numbers. As I two finger a family 'passing through' Hutton have expressed a wish to look around having 'downloaded the details from the Internet'-or perhaps they are bloggees?

And there also seems no shortage of money looking for a home. One young man from Embra, no family, seems keen to have a week end place 'in the country'-and this is about as much in the country as you can get without turfing the cows out from under a tree on Farmer C's pastures. He seemed impressed and can pay out of ready cash. Admittedly he looked a bit askance at Mr Rutherford's yard over the Western (but not Wailing) wall-it was a Saturday and very quiet. I assured him as that a Mr R lived there with his family it was peaceful at the best of times but he plans to return on working day 'for a listen'. During the week? And he wants a week end retreat!?

The regulars at the Post Office are anxious that the OM should go to a family-to live in-not a second home for well heeled folk who will have no interest in the local community.

Amen to that.

Want an old Manse? Three for sale in this area. One (Georgian) in Chirnside; Posh, nice and Upmarket. And the Auld Manse in Gavinton. Nice but bang on the road. And could you live with the 'Auld'. Might as well call it Dun Preachin. Really there is only one sensible choice

And how many other old Manse's have fairies at the bottom of the garden?

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Originally uploaded by BORDERSCOT
I like this image from BorderScot. Duns must be one of the few towns in which clouds are a point of interest. From this point the only way down, is down.



Huttonian is intrigued by the 'Looking Back' feature in last Thursday's Berwickshire recalling reports from the paper 50 years ago. Here is one

CRITICISM of the condition of public conveniences in Duns which appeared in a letter to the Press was deplored at a meeting of the Town Council. The position was greatly exaggerated said Bailie W. Robertson in a meeting presided over by Provost M McCallum. Bailie W. Robertson said the convener of the Public Health Committee visited these places regularly and they were washed and cleaned out every morning. He had no reason to find fault with any of them, the one in the park was a model of cleanliness while the one in Willis Wynd showed that persons of a low mentality visited it.
I am sure we would all love to know what exactly persons of low mentality had been up to:-activities, it seems, that the convener of the Public Health Committee had been unable to fault; even if Willis Wynd facilities were not exactly a model of cleanliness in contrast with the spotless eat-off-the-floor-premises in the park.

One suspects misspelled graffiti :

'The Konveener of the Pubic Helth Komitee woz here';


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Sunday, October 14, 2007
Huttonian had to take the collection this morning at the 1030 Piscie service in Duns and had been musing about the difference between the Church Of Scotland-as in the Kirk at Hutton and the Episcopalian Church of Scotland (The one with bishops) The former may represent the Scottish character more faithfully with the request in the Lord's Prayer- 'forgive us our debts' rather than the C of E's (and Episcopalian) urging forgiveness of 'trespasses* or other sins' No cash involved.

Debt is an issue ingrained into the Scottish conscienceness. Like the well known example of one Jamie McIntosh lying awake at night moaning and groaning, complaining to his wife that he could not get to sleep over worry about his debt to Murray Cameron across the street. When the wife could stand it no more she flung open the window and yelled ' Look here Murray Cameron, there is no way that my Jamie can ever pay what he owes you. So you might as well forget it' Turning to her husband she said 'You can sleep the now; its Murray who is going to have to do the worrying'

The Rector announced the Offertory Hymn and I noticed a couple I had not seen before scuttle out before I and the collection bag could reach them. And the most well heeled pew in the church, two house guests of a Laird spent so much time fumbling for change-the collection seemed to come as something of a surprise, that the man in front of whom I was poised (his wife was doing the fumbling rummaging through her bag) waved me away saying that he would be ready when I came back-but he made no attempt to intercept me as I returned up the aisle. And to say that they left immediately after the service like a dose of salts is saying something for the traditional rapidity of modern salts.

Piscies have a reputation of attracting 'White'Scots,in some cases more English than the English themselves but I wondered if it was wise for the Rector to dwell on England's stunning victory against the French. After all Duns is in Scotland...

Isn't it?

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Saturday, October 13, 2007


(France arrive en seconde)

Quel Dommage.

Bring on the Argies!

(Traiga a los argentinos)

Or better still

of bring op die suid afrikaners *

* Thats enough bring ons-blog ed



My regular golfing partner at Duns (MBUI) has only taken to the royal and ancient game fairly recently and has all the enthusiasm and zeal of the true convert. His game has come on impressively in recent months but he still has the capacity to play complete rubbish, albeit for mercifully short periods, for no apparent logical reason. 'Oh Dear. I can't understand it. I was hitting them long and straight on the driving range just yesterday' This after a dramatic slice or a devastating hook-or merely a dispiriting trickle along the fairway.' Topped it' he yells and naughtier comments remain unspoken. A player of impressive verbal reticence even in periods of great pressure such as when his tee shot trickles down the path towards burn no 1 at the short par 3 'Double Trouble' or into Burn No2 after a well hit 5 iron which should have been a soft 8. And then a long, soaring, straight drive and all cares drop away.

Until the next shanked 5 iron.

We had a bitter sweet moment yesterday. We both hit good drives over the marker post at the 16th. When we came over the hill there was one ball perfectly placed away up the fairway-a mere 8 iron from the green. He walked confidently towards the distant speck 'That's far the best drive I ever hit on this hole' A spring in his step a satisfied tilt to his head. The spectral spectators applauded his progress.Doffing his cap he peered at the ball.

It was mine.

There are times you can understand why some people hate the game.

(The image is of the tee shot at the 12th-to the right is the 15th green-double trouble with the two burns fore and aft. The tee is over the hill to the right)


Friday, October 12, 2007

Bloggees have asked for a glimpse of the small house in Duns. Here it is. Very tucked away and could fit into the Old Manse three times over with a large attic to spare. Plans are afoot to make it a slightly less small house in Duns but not until after we move in. In the meantime a lot of hammering and banging. Much of the garden is hard standing patio. A pond will eventually appear. Even smaller than the one here. And we won't

have a boat on it.

The other image is Duns Law taken from beside the lake in Duns Castle Park. This was once the site of the original town of Dunse but after it had been burned down once too often-by the English or by the wrong sort of Reiver it was abandoned and rebuilt down the hill. Slightly odd you might think given that the upland site would have been easier to defend-but presumably it wasn't given the record of hostile incursions. In the context 'Law' is a bit of a misnomer but it means a hill in old Gallic. Perhaps there was no word for Law in those days.

Now, of course, we have Sheriff Kevin.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Right Stuff

'We are coming to empty your septic tank' said the cheery voice on the phone' (15-0) 'I have not got a septic tank' said Huttonian (Game and first set)) ' We are coming anyway. Be with you in twenty minutes' ( Final two sets and match)

And they were. It was Scottish Water. And they wanted our cottages rather than the Old Manse and there is indeed a septic tank. I had forgotten that 5 years ago in a fit of panic after a major crap mountain crisis I had signed a maintenance contract for the tank after Scottish Water had emptied it (or the rest of the contents which had not seeped out) Being a quiet day SW had decided on their own initiative to come and catch up with 5 years of effluent.

Welcome. Carpe Diem. Problem. They had the 8 wheel mammoth tanker. It could not get up Kirk Lane. It could barely reach the Village Hall. Nothing daunted the (S)Hit Team looked at the tank. 'I well remember the last time' said (S)HT 1. Eyes misting with nostalgic enthusiasm. 'We brought the tanker over the Glebe Field and emptied the tank from over the back fence. Magic' Not today though-it had been heavily ploughed three days ago and had rained hard since. But they enjoyed a good poke round.' Lots of mince suppers in here' Said (S)HT 2 'And this is cooking fat' shoving a hard grey dripping substance in my general direction for a closer look. Anyhow it's working well. 'Should do for another year. Give us a bell after the next harvest and we will bring Tessie the Tanker over the field and Jock's your uncle'

I was then given a crash course on crisis management involving bamboo canes (three tied together) and making sure I poked the right hole-not the big one but a smaller one to the west of it...and never use a plunger..that compacts not clears.' 'Gottit?'
I did.

After a history of Scottish Water-previously Borders Sewerage, previously East Berwickshire Water, previously Eden Garden Water Works etc etc they went on their merry way-'See you next year' they bellowed cheerfully.

I saw them this morning. Just could not leave it alone. There was the Small Tanker and the large suction hose. 10 minutes sucking and gurgling (and the lorry helped as well) Jock was indeed my uncle. ' Why come today? Not that I am complaining' 'You are selling up and you should always have any tanks cleared afore ye goe' Said (S)HT3 (the small tanker driver)

Now there is service for you. So I can sell up with a clear conscience.

And a clear tank.

With a bit of luck I will never need never to use a plunger.

Compact not clear. Don't you forget.

(No image of processed/ semi digested mince meat available or of 5 year old cooking fat-Flickr has its limitations: so I offer the next best ingredient-mind you the label might not look quite like that after a few years underground)

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I am grateful to the Norn Iron bloggee for the following story from BBC Belfast which resonates in the Borders

"Grey squirrels should be given a contraceptive in a bid to prevent the wiping out of their red cousins.
That is the recommendation of a forestry expert following the publication of the 2007 Irish Squirrel Survey.
The all-Ireland report recorded no red squirrels in County Armagh with only 47 sightings across the rest of Northern Ireland in a seven-month period.
"A contraceptive product would remove the threat of red squirrel extinction," said Dr Michael Carey.
However, the co-author of the survey said such a product was not currently available.
"We first have to get it developed and then get it fed to the grey squirrels, who have the breeding capacity of rats.
"We don't want to see grey squirrels eradicated, just their number brought under control.
The Irish Squirrel Survey showed grey squirrels, which carry a virus which kills the smaller red variety, now populated a number of counties in the Republic for the first time.
It also warned if left unchecked the grey squirrel population could also affect the timber industry given its ability to remove vast amount of bark from trees.
The first grey squirrels to arrive in Ireland are thought to have been six brought over from England as a wedding present in 1911.
It is believed they were released into woods somewhere in County Longford in that same year."

Resonates here? Yes. The Red squirrel is under threat in the Borders as well but not even the Hutton Think Tank (Vermin, Squirrels and Panda section) have come up with the idea of contraception. And it is surprising that this idea emanates from Ireland given the attitude of the RC church to this practice. Condoms (for humans admittedly) were long hard to come by in Irish pharmacies south of the Border. I well remember in the 1960s an English visitor to Dublin desperate for a leg over was told in great confidence by a friendly Chemist where he could find a rubber-the only one in the 26 Counties, under 'a wee bridge' in Tipperary, behind the second loose brick from the left. And he was urged to return it after he had finished with it as 'Its used by the Tipperary Gaelic Football Team-on Saturday evenings'*

Np such problem here-we even have a chain of animal friendly pharmacies in the wilder reaches of the Whiteadder Valley-Known as
Roots the Chemist.

But do they stock The Pill for Grey Squirrels. I don't know.

I have never thought to ask

* It may still be there. Directions on request but it is possibly past its fill by date

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D Day

So today we take formal possession of our Duns property starting the slow and protracted (I suspect) metamorphosis from Huttonian to Reluctant Dinger-the reluctance pertaining more to leaving Hutton than actually being in ye olde towne of Dunse-as it was known until not too long ago-1882 to be exact. We will be spending a bit of time in a more or less empty house as various improvements are made and to sustain us for those long hours waiting for tradespeople to arrive we will gradually transfer the basic necessities of a nomadic existence: teabags,coffee percolator, kettle, 1938 Wisden, two teaspoons, 4 knives, forks and spoons, string, two Mugs -both 'Mugs from Muswell Hill--that was from yet another house ago.And to begin the paper work back ground reading we will have at hand the 'Transcript of the Minute Books of the Bailie of the Burgh of Barony of Dunse' just published by the Reiver Press of Galashiels.

A villager (from here) asked if I knew that Dunse was granted a charter of Burgh and Barony by James IV in 1490. It had slipped my mind. She muttered something about it going down hill ever since being one of those locals who regard Ber Wick as their town of choice with its Sir Morrisons and now Marks and Sparks. Duns just boasting a Coop, and praise the pigs for that small mercy. But even in 1490 it was a considerable place with 38 Cordiners, 49 Hammermen, 33 Skinners and Glovers, 16 Tylers (roof workers not Cockney suit fitters) and 28 Weavers. Just try finding even one Cordiner in sophisticated Berwick now a days. And in 1490 not a Polish plumber in sight.

So we start today the transition from incomer to indweller as a certain Alison Maxwell was described in August 1753. She was in deep manure with the Burgh Highheidyins for daring to 'cutt timbers, firr lopps' belonging to one Alexr Hay of Drummelziar and had to abstain in future entry into his enclosures-otherwise a penalty of Ten Pounds Scots mony would be handed down from the bench. Whatever happened to her descendants one wonders? The Hays are still there -in the Castle with, we hope, their firrs unlopped and their timbers resolutely uncutt.

No, Curious of Coldstream the image is not of our new house. This is the Hay's pad-Duns Castle-not the original pile but a Victorian McChateau

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007
A bloggee asked if it was not an awful chore to have to post everyday-write something (He carefully omitted to add 'interesting') Does Huttonian lie awake at night fretting about what to write about come the cold grey dreich dawn. Take today. It was a cold, grey, dreich dawn. I could write again about the Pheasants, drab and soaking gazing resentfully into the (comparatively) warm and inviting kitchen. I actually would invite them in to roost by the Raeburn but (a) they are still too timid and (b) they crap a lot. I could go on and on about selling this pile-and I suspect at present rate of progress I will have to go on and on-Blast Northern Rock and his Ditherness, The Gov of the Bank of England. There is also so much, and not much more, one can say about Sir Morrisons.All Human Life is no longer there since the caravanners have followed the swallows to winter quarters. And now that Marks and Sparks have set up shop (no pun intended) the action has anyhow moved elsewhere. Mind you the wife has yet to scrutinise their Green credentials. Are plastic bags thrust at you.; quality and quantity of wrapping, proportion of organic and local produce. So many boxes to tick. Worth a blog any day except when it is hissing down and their car park will still be full of rubber neckers from tout Berwickshire. Then of course the ever green (inappropriate pun not intended) topic of cash strapped landowners wanting to concrete over the best agricultural land north of the Border and build Mc Mansions in every nook and cranny. But on second thoughts

I will take a day off and blog about what there is to blog about, or not. Some other time perhaps.

And leave it at that.
For today anyhow.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Cocky. Your days are numbered

However early one gets up to make the tea in our **** kitchen Cocky, the mendicant Pheasant, often flanked by his hen bidees-near-the-same-bush-in, will be waiting beaks pressed against the glass. And they will demand feeding by stomping up and down looking fan tailed and eager until their breakfast of organically supervised mixed grain has been flung in their general direction.

Today's (rather blurry)image is of Ollie, Cocky's senior consort, strutting off in high dudgeon after Cocky got to the breakfast first and was preventing any of the distaff side getting their share.

The wife is worried that the next owner of the Old Manse will neglect bird welfare and is considering getting the brief to write in various 'burdens' into the legal documentation to do with bird feeding, organic gardening, no window cleaning until the starlings have gone and no closing of the garage door until the swallows have tidied up their nests and flown south(?)-With Global warming they may now head North instead. I fear the problem may be expense. Bad enough to have to raise a mortgage to buy the OM. To keep the birds in the manner the wife has made them accustomed to will require a second facility. Nuts, grain,fat balls, outside loos, special shrubs,plunge baths.Neighbourhood Cat watch. It all costs money and despite the massive foliage which surrounds our garden we all know what does not grow on trees.

Observing one of our potential house buyers watching the mass of birds chomping away outside the kitchen window I saw his trigger finger instinctively tense and curl.

I know the feeling.

But I only shot at rats with the borrowed air rifle.


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Sunday, October 07, 2007

The relentless John Lamont, the Tory MSP for these parts, not content with converting the former LibDem MSP, Eaun Robson's informative 'Mound Notes' in the Berwickshire into a party political puff, has now climbed onto 'reopen Reston Station' Bandwagon, or should that be cattle truck. Apparently the re-opening of this ancient pre-Beeching halt will be a 'huge boost to the economy' and to the Eastern Borders 'infrastructure'. The sort of argument that RAGES regularly trots out with very little factual justification. How the pleasuring of 5 commuters from Reston and three more from the next hamlet will be such a huge boost to the GDP of Reston and environs has never been quantified and the thought that industry will rush to the area to take advantage of workers not having to travel by rail from Berwick or Dunbar is frankly bizarre-but Mr Lamont must think there are votes in it. Perhaps he is influenced by the chairman of RAGES claiming that Reston Station has a catchment area of 10,000. Before JL rushes off to shake them all by the hand and thrust pamphlets into unresisting hands he should consider if this statistic refers to people

Or to sheep.

Meanwhile we await with bated breath the clarification of STAG1 -'Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance' No doubt followed by STAG2. Then we will be able to have a very small party. Unless there is a change in his circumstances JL will be very welcome to bring a bottle-yes the one used by Mr Gordon Brown

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

England win narrow defeat.

I asked a villager outside the village hall if he had heard the score in the England Australia match. 'Its just finished. Australia won 10-12' ' Did Australia get the 10?' 'Aye' 'Then England won!?'


No Crosses of St George decorating the main street tonight.

I imagine

(The image of Jonny Wilkinson is from the 2003 World Cup. But it will do nicely)

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No Marks out of ten

Morrisons was curiously deserted for a Saturday morning-great pleasure for Huttonian doing the marketing in the absence of the wife in the Home Counties. I commented to the check out person. 'Marks and blooming Sparks' she said. (Didn't actually say blooming) This is no ancient Northumberland expression but a reference to the the Eighth wonder of the known Ber wick-the newly opened M&S food hall in the Home Base complex as it used to be called. Apparently it has been packed out ever since it opened its aroma filled aisles-tout Berwickshire and 87% of the rest of the Borders has flocked to experience food shopping at its most sophisticated-just like the southron folk as far down as Newcastle can enjoy every day.

I overheard two villagers discussing this dawning of a new age.

V1 'Have you been to the Marks and Spencers yet?'
V2 'Yes. 5 times'
V1 ' What did you buy'
V2 'Not a thing'
V1' Why not'
V2 'Check out queues too long tae bother'
V1 'How about the prices'
V2 ' Sky high'
V1 ' Would you have bought anything if ye did na have to queue, like'
V2 ' Probably not'

Well there goes the Hutton market.

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Friday, October 05, 2007
TGIF Lets view a House

Huttonian knew when he woke to a glorious warm windless Autumnal day that scheduled golf at Duns (MPBUI) was doomed. And so it proved. A couple from Embra just had to see the Old Manse. Today. No: Monday nor the weekend would not do. Very pleasant and less than non commital. Seemed to like it. Or perhaps they didn't. Very interested or not at all. Impossible to say. Urgency? Not really explained. They had been looking at possible country houses off and on for several months. But it was a great day for a visit to the countryside.

They were sure about that.

And by the time that they had gone.

So had my game.

I was sad about that.

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Originally uploaded by erase
Huttonian is gratetful to Erase for this portrait of the elder granddaughter enjoying that magic moment before blowing out the candles and having the traditional dirge sung at you. And the cake looks quite nice too
Thursday, October 04, 2007

What on earth has this article from the Berwickshire to do with Huttonian?

Manderston to host charity event

CLIC Sargent will benefit-and Christchurch Duns

Sarah Kennedy will be the special guest.

THE magnificent Manderston House, near Duns will be the venue for a charity evening in November which will benefit CLIC Sargent - the UK's leading Childrens' Cancer Charity - and Christ Church, Duns, Fabric Fund.
CLIC Sargent was formed in 2005 after a successful merger between CLIC (Cancer and Leukemia in Children) and Sargent Cancer Care for Children. The charity provides all round care and support every step of the way during treatment, in hospital and at home offering specialist nurses, doctors, social care and family support in the community; youth services, holidays and helpline etc. After treatment, helping survivors, supporting those so tragically bereaved and with research, etc.
Radio 2's dawn patrol leader, Sarah Kennedy - who last summer opened the Edwardian Fayre at Manderston House - will attend the reception which will be followed by an Auction of Promises and a Silent Auction.
This glittering occasion, which is made possible by the kindness of Lord and Lady Palmer, will be held on Saturday, November 24, commencing at 6pm.
Auctioneer, Hugh Veitch from Reston will be in charge of the auction of around 30 items which include holidays in Italy, Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland, lunch/ dinner at various hotels, fishing on The Yair, duck flighting at Greenlawdean, rough shooting on the Duns Castle Estate, cooking for a dinner party, a day at the races, golf, offers of gardening, house/pet sitting,etc. to name but a few. This will commence at 7pm.
There will also be a Silent Auction which contains about 25 items including various items of costume jewellry, a food hamper, a Nicole Farhi handbag, a guitar, etc.. etc. unfortunately no cuddly toy!
There is something for everyone - a range of items to suit all pockets.
Tickets, which will be limited, cost £12.50 each to include wine and canapés and can be obtained from Marlene Young, Manderston Stables, Duns

The alert reader will note a reference to 'holidays' and 'Ireland'. The Huttonian input is the use of the Norn Iron Newcastle cottage for a whole week in the coming year as one of the items in the Auction of Promises. Dates negotiable. The winners will have to hitch hike their own way across the Irish Sea. And as part of the deal is exclusive use of a really good set of golf clubs to play on the Royal County Down (PBUI). Are there limits to our generosity I hear you cry? Yes. Pay your own Green Fees and start saving now.

(The image is to whet appetites of potential bidders for this unrepeatable offer)

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007
How Green is our Valley?

SIR, - I observe in Greenlaw, and presumably it happens elsewhere too, that the different coloured bags of carefully separated waste (paper and card; plastic and tins) are all thrown into the same waste cart and are scrunched up together. The bags burst, with the result that all the contents become mixed up.
I wonder, therefore, what the point is. I think it would be an excellent idea if one of your reporters followed the waste to see where it goes, how it is treated, to where it is then taken and whether it is actually recycled at all.
I suspect that it is all taken out of Berwickshire to another site, moved on again and then not actually recycled. But, so far as everyone is concerned, all the recycling criteria are met.
I do believe that increasingly there is a divide between rhetoric and delivery at every level of government, public service and business

writes a Greenlaw man to tomorrow's Berwickshire Fishwick Special Branch have revealed under the Freedom of Information Act (30 Day Rule) that one of their operatives attempted to follow a waste collection vehicle to see what actually happened to the contents. Mission aborted as the front tyre of his squad bike was punctured by debris falling from the back of the lorry. It proved to be a piece of recyclable plastic (PET Mark 1)

Ironic. Or What?

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Concentrating as Huttonian was on cheering on Paula Radcliffe I had completely forgotten that Hutton had a distinguished entrant in the Great North Run half marathon last weekend. Although not quite squeezing into the first three he had a reasonable time. In his own words:

I finished in 02:15:54
My position was 20,642
Really enjoyed the race, will do it again next, highly recommend the challenge, I think it is a hard Half Marathon compared to others I have done (Sheffield / Nottingham) although I was 15 or so years younger, and I was really impressed by very slick organisation of the event.
Perhaps a Hutton / Paxton team for next year can be got together, as I know the Cross Inn manageress / owner (sorry name passes me by just now) is keen for next year, any other takers?
I have raised in the region of £100.00, big thanks to all who sponsored me, the funds go the British Red Cross (Northern Region) who also did a great job in aftercare with tea, biscuits, malt cake, bananas etc.

You can get more detail on my performance etc. via http://secure.greatrun.org/results/quickresults.php and just enter my race number 6415

His name his quite misleading in this context and I will never refer to him again as 'Neil Couch Potato' Not that I ever did. Actually.

Next year I hope he at least will run for Cerebral Palsy Africa (www.cerebralpalsyafrica.org )

You may or may not be able to see the Hutton runner amongst the crowds streaming past at the bottom of the image. Presumably the lead aircraft won?

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Yes It's Still For Sale

Huttonian said to the enquiring villager at the Kirk on Sunday. 'But's its been on the market for such a long time' 'Ten days actually'

It seems a long time but we have had two couples over the house-one very keen, the other switched off once they realised that JR's Yard was visible from our bedroom window when the Ash trees had shed their leaves. And the distaff one was uneasy, indeed startled, at the prospect of having an old graveyard north of the house as if graveyards near Old Manses could come a such a surprise. 'Such quiet neighbours' did not seem to offer her much comfort. A third couple had to postpone but will be back and as I post people all the way from the deepest south-Peterborough-are hastening north to arrive on the most stunning Autumnal day you can imagine. Surely one look and a desperate scrabble through the handbag for a well thumbed cheque book or a large suitcase of freshly minted fivers from the boot of the Daimler. When we look out of the kitchen window at miles and miles of countryside-now being ploughed by Farmer C's Massey Ferguson-the woodpile swarming with brown jobs, lesser brown jobs,gleaming finch things,Greater Great Woodpeckers, Pheasants, Collared Doves, Sparrow Hawks (enough birds-Blog-ed)we cannot understand why any prospective buyer fails to say 'Snap'.

Well the Peterborough couple have been and gone. Not much hope there. They made it clear that they were currently living in a very grand house in the Cambridgeshire countryside which, their friends told them, would be sold to the first multi-millionaire through their doors. And they agreed with their friends their problem was to find a house in the frozen north which matched up to their present residence. Mind you we had some features in common. We have working shutters. Of course. Woodburning stove. Yup. Raeburn. So do they.(Aga actually-with four ovens) Working 'servants' bells. Coming out of their ears. Garden stuffed full of fruit;ditto; Outhouses suitable for conversion. Tick that box. But then we started to go down hill. We have an adjoining Kirk-they enjoy a neighbouring Abbey, knocked about a bit by Thomas Cromwell (not the passe Oliver) and a Very Old Rectory. But the killer was in the garden. With great pride I pointed out The Pond. All our own work.

They said they have a pond too.

Well actually its a lake. And it has

a Boat on it.(Which you can only see on clear days)

(My natural rejoinder about our midget submarine, lurking in out Giant Newt infested depths occurred some hours later)

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Huttonian does not normally bore bloggees with cut and post jests (apart from the letter column of the Berwickshire) but I cannot resist passing on the sad tale of the paranoic Dinger -possibly part of the entourage of the self styled Regent of Scotland-but no names no pack drill as my grandfather's RSM used to say.

Anyhow Dinger X had a fixation that his every move was watched by MI6, MI5, Fishwick Special Branch and in months with a 'r' in them, by the CIA and FBI as well. A kind friend felt that Dinger X needed a break from hothouse conspiracy ridden Duns and took him for a fun filled holiday in distant Ber Wick where our Dinger friend had never been before. He went with some reluctance, especially as it was across the border, but what with the bracing sea air, the friendly sea gulls and the frequent display of the Saltire despite long years of English occupation, he started to perk up. When they came to Wallace Green he was attracted by a large diagrammatic map of the town showing all places of interest. Suddenly he froze and went white-and with a trembling finger pointed to a square box on the map with a large black arrow which said:


And then gasped out:

'How do they know that?'

(I have no images-for security reasons-of Wallace Green but the one above is of one of the seats on Ber wick walls much used by visiting spies in months with an 'r' in them)

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