Musings from the Merse
Thursday, January 31, 2008


The missive below appears in this week's Berwickshire-at least on the e-version-the hard copy is a blizzard away in storm tossed Ber Wick. Hopefully the wife will be able to negotiate the snow drifts and bring one out to us.

Your last edition gave considerable prominence to Conservative MSP Mr John Lamont's proposal to protect small rural schools which has unfortunately come a little late for schools right across the Borders, including those at Burnmouth and Hutton. .
He is quoted as saying, 'Too often in the past we have seen the heart ripped out of rural communities when the local school closes...'
He is so right, but what a pity he wasn’t around four years ago to advise SBC's Tory councillors against giving their almost 100% support to a school closure programme that did just that.

I wonder if this is from a certain local political campaigner who prefers to remain anonymous? The name of one prime suspect is on the tip of my tongue where it will remain for security reasons. The jibe at the Tories may not be altogether fair as I would be surprised if Big Jim Conundrum Fullarton, our local conservative councillor at the time of the battle to save Hutton school, actually voted for the closure. Thickish he may be, insensitive possibly, but given the strength of local feeling even he would not have had the gall to do so. Would he?

I am told that there are now over 40 children under 16 in Paxton alone. A pity they had not been around two years ago to swell the roll of primary school children. But I wonder if it would have made any difference. The policy of the highheidyins is Newtown StBoswell's is firmly : Big is beautiful. Arguments about schools being more than just educational establishments and centres of rural communities cut little ice around here. Its education, education education. And sadly the campaign to keep the school running focused more on aggressive charecter assassination and party politicl considerations than on sensible reasoned argument. Sad but even if it had been conducted more intelligently the outcome would probably have been the same.

(I could't find an image of our Hutton School either in my pictures or in Flickr-the above is of a Hutton Church of England school-presumably in one the other half dozen or so Huttons south of the Border. )

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Paradise Postponed

We should have been en route to Norn Iron today for two weeks r&r and golf. But sadly circumstances have conspired against us and we have had to postpone our trip until April. Mind you judging from the Blether Centre's forecast not much golf would have been on offer at the Royal County Down (PBUI) with snow,torrential rain, frost and storm force winds forecast for the first two weeks of February. So,instead, I had a consolation round at Duns (MPBUI). It was barely open with only nine holes playable and the first fairway should not have been-sea like conditions and the poor cardiac three would have been better in rubber dinghies with outboard motors rather than struggling through the marsh with their heavy power trolleys which were snagged up to their axles and barely mobile. The other group of more active golfers just behind us were a four ball when they started off and threatened us with bursts of frantic speed and dark glances' Out of our way Jimmies' We (a two ball) were contemplating letting them through when one of them lost a ball, thus taking the pressure off us.. He frantically searched for the statutory five minutes whilst his three partners stamped their feet impatiently and smoked. They then went on leaving him too it and we never saw him again. Perhaps it was the ball he got for Hogmanay and had no other.

After the round, I sheltered in the club house, soaking wet feet,muddy, frost bitten and wind swept. There on the coffee table was a glossy magazine. On the cover there was a picture of the 9th hole at Royal County Down (PBUI) The caption said 'Arguably the best course in the world. Eat your heart out'

I did.

It tasted bitter

(The image speaks for itself. It's not Duns)

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008
More Power to the (Welsh?) People

This is from the Scottish Power Website. Yes Scottish Power:

ScottishPower - Cysylltu ?i

Ar gyfer ymholiadau cyffredinol, mae sawl ffordd o gysylltu â ni.

Ar y ffôn ar 0845 272 1212.
Ebost customer.services@scottishpower.com
Os ydych yn Gwsmer Ynni Ar-lein neu os yw'r ymholiad yn ymwneud â'r
Gwasanaeth Ynni Ar-lein, gallwch gysylltu â'r tîm gwasanaethau
cwsmeriaid ar-lein.

Ar y ffôn ar 0845 272 1212.
Ebost customer.services@scottishpower.com
Does dim rhaid mewngofnodi er mwyn cysylltu â ni am Ynni Ar-lein.

Gallwn roi cyfarwyddiadau ynghylch sut i adrodd am nam ac argyfwng

WELSH SURELY? And there is no Gallic section. (unless the above is a new ff*orm of the Scottish tongue? Ancient Border perhaps?

I hope that a Welsh Speaking bloggee can try the ffree ffon and check the quality of the assistance on offer. And who is monitoring for 'training purposes' Or you can send an Ebost.

*Second f is silent. Blog-ed



L'Affaire Societe Generale has left Hutton mostly unmoved and has not even rated a mention in the Berwickshire News So I am indebted to this news item for further enlightenment on the (allegedly) fraudalent activities of this outstanding example of a cheese eating surrender monkey.


FRIENDS of rogue trader Jerome Kerviel last night blamed his $7 billion losses on unbearable levels of stress brought on by a punishing 30 hour week.

Kerviel hid his November losses in a batch of wonderfully fresh croissant

Kerviel was known to start work as early as nine in the morning and still be at his desk at five or even five-thirty, often with just an hour and a half for lunch.

One colleague said: "He was, how you say, une workaholique. I have a family and a mistress so I would leave the office at around 2pm at the latest, if I wasn't on strike.

"But Jerome was tied to that desk. One day I came back to the office at 3pm because I had forgotten my stupid little hat, and there he was, fast asleep on the photocopier.

"At first I assumed he had been having sex with it, but then I remembered he'd been working for almost six hours."

As the losses mounted, Kerviel tried to conceal his bad trades by covering them with an intense red wine sauce, later switching to delicate pastry horns.

At one point he managed to dispose of dozens of transactions by hiding them inside vol-au-vent cases and staging a fake reception.

Last night a spokesman for Sócíété Générálé denied that Kerviel was overworked, insisting he lost the money after betting that the French were about to stop being rude, lazy, arrogant bastards."

The author is not named nor the provenance clear but one gets the impression that the writer is not much of a Francophile.

The croissant in question (allegedly) is pictured above

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Monday, January 28, 2008
Breakfast All Day
Having an excellent Latte in Duns I was intrigued to see that the menu had as its entry at Number 1 : 'Full English Breakfast' 'English Breakfast! What would Rabbi B have made of that? International Cuisine is all very fine and dandy but an English label is pushing it a bit in Duns Scotusville. I looked down the menu-no Scottish equivalent and I must say I am not quite sure what you add to a very full English spread to make it particularly Scottish. A bit of Haggis on the side? And at least the FEB is a much healthier option when compared with the fearsome fatty Ulster Fry. One of those is just about managable but if you indulge next day your are heading for a Coroners as my old golfing partner used to say

And he was right.

Struck down at the first on a famous Irish golfing links. And no doubt he would have said, if he could: 'What a waste of the green fee' And he was an Ulster Fry man. 'Nothing quite like it' he claimed.


Dead Right.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The words 'Hutton, Berwickshire' leaped up at me from the pages (well, Page 3 actually) of the Scotsman yesterday. A whole page heasded

Tribute to Voytek, the smoking drinking fighting soldier bear

The Story begins :

HE ENJOYED a cigarette and a bottle of cold beer and could carry more mortar rounds than any other soldier. But Voytek wasn't one of the ordinary dogs of war – he was a battling bear.
Adopted by the Polish army, the European brown bear "fought" at the bloody Battle of Monte Cassino before dying, not of a bullet wound, but of old age, in Edinburgh Zoo. Now a campaign has been started to build a monument to him.

Voytek was adopted as a cub in the Middle East in 1943, before growing into much more than a mascot. He eventually stood 6ft on his hind legs and weighed 35 stone, and he used his strength to help the armed forces, carrying ammunition at the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy the following year. The four-month battle, one of western Europe's bloodiest, left a quarter of a million soldiers dead

He was given a name, rank and number and took part in the Italian campaign.

All very well I hear you grunt but what about Hutton?

Well, about 3000 Polish Troops were stationed at Wingfield near Hutton for a year or two before D Day and Voytek was with the Poles. And :

Campaigner Aileen Orr*, who lives in Hutton, said she first heard about Voytek as a child from her grandfather who served with the King's Own Scottish Borderers.

She said: "I thought he had made it up, to be quite honest – it was only when I got married and came here that I knew, in fact, he was here. Voytek was here.

"When I heard from the community that so few people knew about him, I began to actually research the facts.
The story is totally amazing, and it would be good if we could have some memorial in Scotland, perhaps at Holyrood, to celebrate the bear's life."

One remaining Pole from that time still lives in Hutton

Polish veteran Augustyn Karolewski, 82, who still lives near the site of the camp in Berwickshire, said: "He was like a big dog; no-one was scared of him.

"He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer – he drank a bottle of beer like any man."

When the troops were demobilised, Voytek spent his last days at Edinburgh Zoo. Mr Karolewski went back to see him on a couple of occasions and found he still responded to the Polish language.

He explained: "I went to Edinburgh Zoo once or twice when Voytek was there. And as soon as I said his name, he would sit on his backside and shake his head wanting a cigarette. "It wasn't easy to
throw a cigarette to him – all the attempts I made until he eventually got one.

A book about Voytek: The Soldier Bear is due out next month.

It's good to see a mention of the indefatigable Mrs Orr-'Campaigner' is her label apparently. I hope she can campaign to have the statue of the bear, not in Holyrood for goodness sake but in Hutton. Another attraction for the Hutton Tourist Trail which is still at the planning stage.

I am indebted to Google for this image of Voytek chatting to soldiers and soliciting Two pints of lager, a packet of crisps and any spare Senior Service fags.And the other image from the Washington Post shows the Bear as part of the Polish military unit's regimental emblem'

Post story at :


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Saturday, January 26, 2008


This is the week end of the BGBW organised by the RSPB. This is usually part of the wife's portfolio as she is Fauna Gaulieter and Keeper of the Bird Seed. Today she is in Lunnon so I have assumed her mantle with some trepidation not being a twitcher and bad on brown job identification. THe idea is to watch the patio for an hour and record the highest numbers of species you see at one time. Now Robins I can manage (as long as they are male) ditto Wood Pigeons, Starlings,blackbirds, visiting Pheasants and collared Doves. I get a bit lost with Dunnocks and Sparrows, very similar and once I have identified one (from the RRPB's little chart) , it moves and some thing else very similar takes it place. But not to worry. The wife says we get more sparrows than Dunnocks so I counted them all and divided by three to get the Dunnocks-so we have two them-official.

I am also following the wife's Modus Operandi. To ensure a good show and important census return (a) Wait for the Greater Spotted Woodpecker- a regular.Put him down (b) Put out the Bird Seed, nuts, fat ball-double quantity (c) Start the clock (d) Count. (e) if no sparrow hawk turns up within the 60 minute twitch stop clock until it does as Sparrow Hawks look good on the return although its arrival reduces the available to count bird population by about 100%.

So far no Sparrow Hawk but a good show otherwise including a female pheasant, two very large wood pigeons fighting over the nuts, two nice little non brown jobs which I have tentatively identified as Goldfinches and the usual other rather boring suspects.

I'll give the Sparrow Hawk another half an hour. After a bit this bird watching business gets a bit


(If you click on the image you will be able to see at least 4 feathery things including the No 1 Robin who never seems to leave the lower branches of the wood pile)

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Friday, January 25, 2008
Coming as a Campbell?

Someone on Berwickshire 'Freecycle' is anxious to find a kilt-32-34inch waist. Any kilt apparently.

I wonder if this is wise. Kilts indicate loyalties-your clan and this guy appears not to bother what flag he may have to fly? I wonder if he has considered what might happen if he turns up at an ethnic event, bekilted, bespoke sporran, dirk filled long socks-and he is wearing a Campbell Tartan.

And it is a Macleod event. Could be hairy that.

And not just

under the Kilt.

Be like proud Edward and think again. That's Huttonian's advice



Skimming through 50 year old copies of the Berwickshire as one does on wet and windy Fridays in the Borders Huttonian came across this little item from January 1958

THE Mid and East Berwick Area of the NFU Scotland have decided to make a strong protest to the Telephone Department of the GPO on the increases in telephone charges. The charge from Duns to Paxton, which serves Foulden and Hutton, is increased from 9d to 1s. But the Duns Group Area map seems to show Berwick and district has been deliberately left out, meaning a call from Duns to Berwick costs 1s. This is compared to just 3d for a call from Duns to Dunbar, despite being five miles further away. It was pointed out that Berwick was the main business area in relation to farming and as a result a grave injustice had been done.

When you consider that a shilling (5p) in 1958 was worth having in your pocket (You could go to the public loo 12 times or buy a dozen eggs) and worth a few quid purchasing power now, getting on the blower was not a cheap proposition. It would have been better to summon Jim's Taxi and deliver your message to Hutton personally. And you can imagine how the lines (three?) fron Duns to Dunbar must have been jammed all day by indigent Dingers desperate to get their money's worth for that extra five miles. : 'Is that you Rabbie? Great day for a comparatively cheap phone call. If you happen to be going to Berwick the day would you be sure to buy the Berwick Advertiser. Then when you get back to Dunbar, give us a tinkle and read me out the special offers from Joes. I could phone them myself
but One Shilling that's bloody daylight robbery'

Image is of a phone of the period-possibly in Joes and thus usually silent

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bearware Bad Wother

The BBC Blether Centre is mostly into Weather Warnings these days-wind, rain, flood, snow-anything to cover their backs against complaints of being caught with their pants down like Mr Fish in the Great Non-Hurricane of '87. They are even inventing their own adjectives to suit the weather. Ceefax P.405 had a long blurb on the dangers of going to Bute and Argyll ending with the very ominous caution:' Driving conditions will be harazrdous

I wasn't actually planning a trip to either Bute or Argyll today but if I was, I would postpone it. Dangerous is bad enough, hazardous is awful but harazrdous is mind bogglingly catastrophic.

I think I'll just go to Berwick. Weather is to be merely kolid with the Er casionall shar.

I'll risk that

NB the image is of harazrdous weather approaching Argyll taken by a concerned Butian

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Muckles OK in Engerland?

Has the blog penetrated to the darker regions of Westminster? (see previuos posts on the problems of getting the English (or any one else outside Scotland) to accept the paper notes bearing a Scottish insignia. Good luck to Mr Bruce (any relation to the spider watcher, I wonder?)

Call to make Scottish notes legal

"Mr Bruce wants Scottish notes to become legal tender
Westminster is being put under coming pressure to change the law and make Scottish bank notes legal tender.
Although a number of Scottish banks issue notes they are not backed by the force of law anywhere in the UK.

The only notes that carry the force of law are those issued by the Bank of England.

The Liberal Democrat MP, Malcolm Bruce, said he wanted the anomaly corrected and he planned to raise the matter at Scottish Questions.

He said it was now time to get the law changed.

Mr Bruce believes that although the current position is not a massive practical problem*, it sends the "wrong signal".

He added that there were still occasions in England where traders refused to accept notes produced by Scottish banks. "

* It is a massive practical problem when a Croatian run Pizza place in Palmers Green will not accept your Clydesdale Tenner and the other PPs have all closed.



Berwickshire Red Light District

Sorry Randy of Reston this is about roads. Specifically the Borders Council's Roads Dept: aka Having the life of Riley. All Autumn and early winter, snug inside the St Boswells HQ, or the Dinger sub office; endless cups of teas, a few hands of cards, wall to wall digital, glued to Al Jazeera and chuckling at all those plaintive appeals from wretched community councils asking them to fix potholes, drain flooding, repair verges. There is no Arabic word for maintenance I was once told by an Oriental scholar and I sometimes wonder if we do not have the same hiatus in Border Council officialese, 'Send them the usual response' yells, Roadsman Billy-'No funds until next financial year' (first used each late July)

Then come late January: the first mild day, financial constraints are tossed aside and the road gangs (not, here, chained together) are dispatched to all corners of the Merse: Operation Red Light. Teams of no more than three workmen (to ensure a maximum job time) two large trucks to carry same, and two traffic light sets per operation. Modus Operandi:Block half the road width; dig a hole behind red and white barrier and assorted cones and erect lights at either end of the working area whether it is 5 feet or five hundred yards long. The lights are ingenious and are of two main categories: One: the slow changing variety: leaving you staring at a red light for twenty minutes, protecting a small hole and two sandwich boxes with the wide empty road stretching beyond for 1.5 miles. Mark Two: the light that is always green as you approach it from a mile away and suddenly goes Red (No Orangemen to bother about around here) when you are fifty yards away. The twenty minute rule then applies. If you are the second car in the queue you need your acceleration skills to be finely honed. Once the light is green you have 1.8 seconds to get past it before it goes red again and you have to hope that Farmer Stuart Mc Blogg ahead is not dreaming of his next Holiday in the Seychelles and is quick off the mark to give you a decent chance of following him lawfully. There is actually a third specimen-fortunately rare, but spotted around Leithholm, with a long Amber light after the 29 minute Red and just as you let out your clutch it goes Red again.

I went through three of these assault courses to day in a (roundabout)journey of about 12 miles. Should't complain as the pot holes are fearsome, the verges mutilated and the drainage blocked. And it brings some cheer into the drab lives of the roadsmen who can chuckle at the increasing rage and frustration of seething motorists held up on empty roads while old potholes are lingeringly filled and new ones painstakingly excavated. The trick is to keep the good work going until 5 April, shoulder their spades, dismantle their lights and say with some truth. : 'Work well done and that's next years road maintenance allocation

exhausted already.'

FY2008/9 will be a good one for cards.

(Image is inspired by that famous Road Movie with its theme song: There's a corner of some roadsman's lounge which will be always the B6460)

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Post offices remain under threat throughout Scotland and around us we have already lost a number over the past few years. Someone had been willing to reopen the Paxton sub post office but was refused permission as it was 'too near Hutton' Now Allanton has gone and ours, in the Village Hall, carries on two days a week but under constant threat of the chop. Perhaps some of the bloggees will not know that the Old Manse once housed the post office. When we arrived in 1997 we were persuaded to take it on (having been run by the former owners)-involved the use of the kitchen table, Mondays and Thursdays 9-1. Our young lodger ran it although Huttonian was the 'owner'(and had an official badge to prove it) Then came computerisation and our lodger departed with the PO computer moving 15 feet or so into the 'Milk room' off the kitchen and run by a neighbour. She eventually got fed up with the awesomely Byzantine, impersonal Post Office bureaucracy(and unreliable on line help line) and the Old Manse was abandoned and it is now in the Village Hall with slightly reduced hours but with an increased clientele including at least one regular customer from distant Paxton (2.2 miles to The Cross)We had about 17 pensioners, the odd stamp sale, a bus pass or two and that was about it.

The poem below, published in the Eildon Tree magazine, conveys the atmosphere of the late 90s up Kirk Lane. I hasten to add that the personalties referred to are based on imaginary figments rather than any real people, alive-or by now, dead.


Up the pock-marked lane,
harassed by nettles and bombarded
by the odd petulant butterfly
they come. Singly, spaced out.
Mondays usually. Our pensioners.
A hardy (but dwindling) band
Homing in on the kitchen table
just cleared of cornflakes
and the smudges of marmalade
Where the cash awaits a second
opinion. Not quite trusting
the nimble fingers
of the young Post Mistress.

Rheumy eyes follow each crisp note
slapped on the table
silently mouthing the mounting value
A wordless nod, a snap of the handbag
money vanishes
like a startled rabbit.
Some coins reluctantly
returned for a second class stamp
(these are careful Border folk)
Before relaxing into
first class gossip.
Or a weather forecast.
Or a pill by pill
commentary leaving
no bowel unturned.

Ping of the bell
Another customer thresholds
So time to go, ritual completed.
‘See you next Monday. Same time


You can bet your last
first class stamp,
on that.

The image shows the cutting edge of PO technology in the late 1990s early noughties. 2nd class stamp 19p so not so long ago. We were kindly allowed to keep this as a token of the POs appreciation and they have now moved on to a more advanced version in Huttpn Hall

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Monday, January 21, 2008

This us the kind of weather I will not miss when we finally leave the rural isolation of Hutton. To day we inhabit real Flanders and Swann country-Mud, Mud, Inglorious Mud, Nothing quite like it for covering the car, the wellies, the visiting cat, the kitchen floor and not a Hippopotamus in sight-not that you could spot one in the driving rain, the dreich and the giraffe deep mud. In all this the farmers are a major contributor to Global Mudding. Tractors from sodden fields take much acreage with them as they join the roads making the whole surface slimy and slippery-they also have fun forcing little ordinary cars (I hesitate to use 'bog standard car' in this context) onto soft verges where they can sink without trace, only to be discovered when they have to prepare the road side for the Jim Clarke Rally drivers who spend as much time on the verges as they do on the carriageway.

Farmers are obliged to clean up their mess-not just put up warning notices which say 'Mud on Road' a statement of the bleeding obvious to say the least-but somehow they never seem to take advantage of dryer spells to clean up and so it is usually April by the time the mud has been returned to where it came from. On top of this the rural roads are badly drained and merely act as a water escape system from neighbouring fields-so small vehicles which manage to avoid the verges end up under water in the massive puddles or rather muddles.

Someone has suggested that those parts of the UK which used to be marshy should be returned to their original state in the fight against Global Warming as Bogs gobble up the carbon. This is the Merse, Merse for Marsh-drained years ago to make it the excellent farming country it now is.With all this rain and the poor drainage we seem to have around here it would not take long to reverse the process. Looking around the soggy fields, the incipient lakes, the cows up to their elbows in mud I reckon we could do it in about

two days.

And we could coin a new description for local agriculture:

Bog Standard

(The image is courtesy of the Hutton Think Tank-games and vision section. It points out that Duns has its Ba' Game. Perhaps we should take advbantage of local conditions and have our own ' Mud Ba'-Rules are simple. Someone drops a new 25p in a field and everyone else looks for it)

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Originally uploaded by Elizmar
Thankyou Elizmar for this study of Allanton which seems, from this shot, to have even less houses than Hutton-but like Hutton, has a speed limit. Why show this image? THere is a very nice property for sale in Allanton (The bit with houses in it) which must be sold for specie to allow the owners to buy the Old Manse in Hutton. So hurry up and get your cheque books at the ready. Apparently the property is featured in today's Scotland on Sunday so hopefully the narrow street (s)-well only a street actually, will be crammed with potential buyers from the start of the working week. We can then get our cash, count it and move on to the Small House in Duns.

Yes, Yes empatient of Eyemouth, if you go round the cormer you will eventually reach the houses.

The wife has pointed out that she does not recognise this scene-nor knows of Carluke -this is said by Elizmar to be the Carluke /Allanton road. Could, she asks, this be another Allanton. According to Flickr it is Allanton the Borders.

Anyhow be careful. The house in question is certainly in Allanton.Not far from the pub. You can't really miss it.

Unless of course you are in the

wrong Allanton

PS It is the wrong Allanton. Further research suggests that this version is in Lanarkshire. Flickr appears to have no images of Allanton proper. So for good ness sake drive to the Borders and find the house of your dreams.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

'Right' said the Wife-'IKEA today-we need at least three book cases for the small-house in-Duns plus a coffee table like thing to stick the new HD ready, flat screen, microwaved enabled, digital- plus TV.' 'But' said Huttonian, reasonably as is his wont, 'its Saturday, there's a recently extended sale. It will be Hell out there.' 'No' said the wife. There's a credit squeeze on, an incipient recession, its after Christmas,Richard Branson and Mr Brown are in China, the world and his wife are broke. The place will be empty. Doddle on stilts'

After we had found the last parking space in the overflow to the over flow car park, walked the 4 miles to the store, queued for the revolving doors, queued for lunch, fought for the last table, been made to carry our tray through hundred of other people carrying their trays (of dirty dishes,mind you-its an old Swedish tradition)gone round the one way system twice, found the storage systems where the book cases should be, and vice a versa, mastered the check out and self serve warehouse where Aisle 22 Hiding Place 18 had every variety of book case except ours, found it at last lurking in HP 19, and then managed with some help to get three gigantic flat packed bookcases, each slightly longer than the car, correctly stowed and escaped via the entrance having failed to find the exit, we were exhausted. And then last straw this had to return via Sir Morrisons to get the English edition of the Daily Mail for our neighbours-Borders Scotland had run out of them and you don't ask for a DM (English edition) in Dalkeith if you value your forehead and kneecaps.

If it is too wet for Orientering in the Lammernuirs IKEA would make a good substitute location. And if you use one of their maps, that adds an extra dimension to the challenge. Especially one of those with a big arrow which says 'You are here' but with no visible reference points which makes you realise the importance and indeed significance of that masterpiece of Swedish Philosophy, Professor Per Lindstrom's :

'De Meeinng ob Eer'

You can buy a copy at IKEA but only at the


(The image is of shopper who has just loaded a small flat pack block of flats onto his car outside IKEA Embra,. Thankyou flickr. He must have had a bad time in the self serve ware house as the caption to the image is:

'Never Again!



Friday, January 18, 2008
Scotland the new Slovenia?

A Mr Alex Orr writes from Embra to the Berwickshire, bemoaning the fact that Scotland can only look on from the sidelines as Slovenia, the first of the new member states to hold the Presidency of the EU, having signed up 'only three years ago', sets and influences the agenda, including climate change, energy policy, ratification of the EU treaty, standardisation of urinals, and the other great issues of the day. If only Scotland were independent what mighty things she could do across the water is the sub text.For the moment she has to be content with running the UK via our Scottish PM. I think an independent Scotland might find itself fairly disappointed by what a minnow can achieve in the six months it has the titular 'power' in the Union-as compared with the actual influence that Scots already have at Westminister. Every day and it sometimes seems, for ever.

I wonder if this Mr Orr is any relation to our local Orrs-seemingly coming from the same SNP stable. It is thus intriguing to see another letter from a Paul Whitehouse who describes himself as the SNP prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk. Hoy! Hold on a minute. What has happened to the indefatigable Mrs Orr. She has valiantly contested all kinds of elections in the Borders for the SNP. Surely she should be given a chance for a crack at a seat in Westminster once Mr Brown has enough bottle to actually hold a general election. If not I hope she will be suitably rewarded for her services to the party when the saltire of an Independent Scotland is eventually raised over the Castle.

Ambassador to Slovenia.


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Thursday, January 17, 2008

I doubt if it was even unconscious humour but it kept Huttonian chuckling all day:

Sign outside Female Toilets in Waverley Street Station:


It would have been even funnier had not only one of the Gentleman's sit down conveniences been in working order. A run on last week's Tuna Chibatas had increased the demand for No 2s. And if you were about number 8 in the queue for relief for the one underventilated cabana you were struck by that old, so apt, nostrum beloved of Victor Sylvester:

The Music dies but the Melody lingers on.

(The image is not of Embra but could well have been-plenty of urinals to go round.)

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  Berwick station Train missing?

Berwick station Train missing?
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Ceefax page 432 says 'No problems reported' with regard to Britain's rail network.

I am catching the first train north.

It's 'reported' that concerns me.

I fear the worst
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

National Express have launched their newly acquired East Coast service with great fanfare but it is hard to see what is new and wonderful about it. The rolling stock etc is old GNER repainted-rather nicer than the old livery certainly but otherwise there is no evidence of much fresh investment. The crew members still sport GNER handbags and this applies to the distaff side as well and the ancient carriages with their manual locking, leaning-out-of-window -risking-decapitation-to-turn-external-handle-to-open-door technology. Same old loos with the mysterious rubber stamping devices on the paper strewn floors and that ancient sign discouraging flushing while the train is standing at the station. Is it more environmentally friendly to have one's crap scattered over Yorkshire at 85 mph than deposited gently with the precision of smart bomb between platforms 1 and 2 at York Station? Surely, anyhow, the wee* tanks are sealed so what does it matter where you crank the handle?

And the tired old crew announcements with 'station stop' 'service of dinner' 'late running' 'inconveniences** regretted' are still intoned, nasally, and expressionlessly, using the old GNER hymn sheets.

Oh yes.Internet connection is free-first class and bog standard alike. But as it takes from Embra to Ber Wick to log on-not much good to me.

* wee not as in small(Blog-ed)

** Also used for loos taken out of service en route.

(The image is of a National Express train arriving at York. Even if you click to enlarge the picture I fear you cannot see the loos being rapidly vacated before the train stops)

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Today's Students # One.

Huttonian was pontificating to a student about how he saw developments in the Middle East outside the staff coffee room when the young man's mobile rang:
'Excuse me' He said politely. 'I must take that call. It's from China'

You know I wished I had lines like that when I was at the Uni.

And compared with my time the youngsters are attentive, appreciative and (extraordinary) well dressed. We must have been a rabble; sniggering our way through lectures, cutting most of them, minimal respect for our teachers, and how scruffy!

Two students came up to me afterwards and thanked me! I would have rather died than done that.

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National Express made a bad start in my book by failing to turn up at all at Ber Wick station-the 1141 to Embra, became a late running 12.23 and then 'delayed' sine die. By which time Huttonian had caught a Virgin*, calling themselves 'Cross Country- -although they still need rails, apparently. The problem was a broken rail 'between Doncaster and York', a rather worrying vague description but the boys in Orange vests from Railtrack rose to the occasion, fixed the problem, and National Express were back on time by the end of my teaching day.

One hates to be fatist but I was not overjoyed to find my self facing a very, very, very, well built fellow traveller for the 45 minutes it takes NE to go down hill from Embra to Ber Wick. I have nothing against fat people per se, some of my best friends etc but this youngish woman never stopped eating from the moment she took her seat (with some difficultly, requiring a sort of shuffled Rumba and a sigh of contentment as gravity did the rest) I could hardly help noticing that she had two large packets of crisps, three assorted sandwiches-ploughman's, Chicken Tikka and Prawn with lashings of Rosemarie sauce. A Baguette-more chicken-and two KitKats. Just as I was about to get out the trolley came round-she looked at me,caught my eye, sighed, and said 'I shouldn't! ' and then ordered a hot chocolate, and several packets of biscuits. To her obvious disappointment the chocolate chip cookies had run out 'previous passenger choice' in the jargon- and she gently chided the trolley person:

'Never would have happened in GNER'

AS I disembarked I saw her struggle to her feet-they had just announced that a 'service of dinner' would 'commence' after Newcastle. and she was obviously determined not to be last in the queue. Given that she was 4 coaches away and only 50 minutes in hand it would have been an interesting contest to watch.

But I really had to get off.

* As it were

(The image above is taken from an unusual collection of Public Art-these figures are provisionally titled 'The Unknown Passengers,

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Monday, January 14, 2008
  Edinburgh University - David Hume Tower

Edinburgh University - David Hume Tower
Originally uploaded by phnk
So its back to school for Huttonian today as he starts another semester of teaching about the Middle East. As an Honorary Fellow the financial rewards are not on the Tony Blair scale. Up to two years ago when I had added my lecture fee to my taxable income, took off my train fare I found I was 75 p to the good. Now the Uni kindly pays the Ber-Wick-Embra-Berwick Senior Rail Card assisted fare I can exult in the knowledge that I am subsidised to enjoy the novel delights of National Express.

The teaching environment is not ideal but at least I am no longer in the archaeology lecture theatre. And so that smart ass student will no longer be able to comment as he did last year when I was gently complaining about the deficiencies of ancient room not too unlike a Roman ampitheatre:

'In your case' he said, from the safety of row L,

'One might think it appropriate'
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The local equivalent of 'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' is surely Irascible of Eyemouth

She writes in the much abused letter column of the Berwickshire:

My observations on the influence of television/computer games on people.
‘Soaps’ on TV were created to show ‘kitchen sink’ dramas supposedly depicting everyday lives of families. My God, these shows depict violence; sexual deviance; adultery; heavy drinking; drug taking and anger! Are these responsible for us and our children emulating them?
Do we want censorship on normal TV? YES!
Good advice given to me was not to watch anything that does not uplift you. My censorship of TV my children were watching was to simply get up and switch off. No argument. But hold on, young people stay up later, and are exposed to adult viewing, videos, and DVDs which show horror or sexually explicit movies with foul language.
Even the news programmes cover gun crimes, death and disease, not to mention gory hospital dramas. Morning chat shows cover overweight, foul mouthed problem people, for what? If I thought TV depicted us today, I’d throw it out the nearest window.


This is some indication of how desperate the editor must be for anyone to write to his organ if they have to publish such a stream of (un) consciousness. If we could only watch uplifting programmes on TV our choice would be very limited : England versus Australia at Rugby and Antiques Roadshow? Perhaps? But I am all for omitting gun crimes, death generally except when corpse over 100, died nicely and had an e-mail from the Queen, Famine etc, Afghanistan, Iraq, Foot and Mouth, Avian Flu, Peter Hain and anything else nasty or unwholesome from the News. That would leave more time for the Weather and local items of a suitable nature: News from the Guilds perhaps and of course the Hutton and Paxton Flower show-once live and 5 repeats.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

One or two potential buyers of the Old Manse were seemingly put off by our adjoining graveyard-a bit surprised to find such a thing next to a Church never mind a Manse.My assurances that the dead made for quiet neighbours did not seem to impress them overmuch and they went, hands firmly in pockets, cheque books unopened, to somewhere less spooky. Last night, standing in the graveyard with a crimson sun set and bats whistling through the trees I could see that some folks might find it a bit creepy although with a still potent glow from a sunken sun casting strong pools of darkness it was difficult to see which of the graves were creaking open to disgorge
their contents.

I doubt if we will get sunsets like these in down town Duns. I was really enjoying the amazing colours until a owl hooted mournfully into my right ear, something soft and furry scuttled over my right shoe, a faint clanking behind me-then I remembered a fast cooling cup of tea perched on the Rayburn.

And did a bit of scuttling myself

(suggest click on the images for a spectacular effect)

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Friday, January 11, 2008
  Political Poo

Political Poo
Originally uploaded by Laura Appleyard
With regard to the post immediately below I am grateful to Flickr ( via Laura Appleyard) for this piece of Political scatology-Australian style. The relevance to the Borders? If someone could manufacture little flags bearing the images of all dog owners in the area (Perhaps as part of a licensing system) thus allowing the more irresponsible to be pilloried this would do wonders for the cleanliness of our region. Now there is an idea for theScottish Borders Council Director of Environmental Services, in effect the Poo Highheidyin.

If the policy fails then perhaps his/her features might be suitably displayed .

Some one should carry the can-or, rather the scooper, after all. That's what accountabilty is all about.

One can only hope we don't get a director called Winnie
The Year of the Dog. Again

Dog Poo is already topic # One in 2008 and it is accordingly faithfully reflected* in the columns of this weeks Berwickshire

- Through your column I would like to make a plea to all the irresponsible dog owners of Eyemouth to start cleaning up after their dogs because the dog muck lying around Eyemouth is an absolute disgrace.
The areas around Seafield, Beach Avenue, St Ebba and the Nursery Lane are particularly bad, in fact the Nursery Lane is so bad that my daughter, who has children at the nursery, had to resort to printing posters and pinning them up along Nursery Lane telling owners to clean up after their dogs.
As you can imagine with three children and a buggy it is very hard to avoid stepping in it or going over it with a buggy because there is just so much of it.
I am sure every mother in the town must get sick of having to scrub buggy wheels and shoes every day after they have been out. Not to mention the serious health risks from it.
So dog owners please have some consideration for others and start cleaning up after your dog, it is not that difficult and if you find it to disgusting to pick up then you shouldn't own a dog.

Huttonian would not normally bother with a cut and paste job on such a regular crie de coeur but this strikes a particular chord with him. On our last visit to the small-house-in-Duns we were greeted by an enormous steaming sausage outside our gate. Almost impossible to avoid-and we only just did so. If this is the work of a visitor from Eyemoth please return with your owner and a large scooper but I fear it is the work of a Dirty Dog from Duns

* As this is not the Mirror-no pun intended is not warranted (blog-ed)

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ambivalent Ber wick #2

Be warned. Shell Petrol Station on Berwick upon Tweed, England is living dangerously. It gives succour to a Nationwide ATM which dispenses, wait for it, SCOTTISH NOTES. A bit of petty nationalism by the Nationwide cash dispenser filler, one assumes, a rabid SNP groupee. What harm? I hear you cry. None, Sir, if you are heading North, across the wild frontier beyond Sir Morrisons, and into Scotland Proper (No oxymoron intended)But going south, Beware. South of Geordie land you will find it increasingly difficult to have Scots money taken seriously. In Lunnon, no chance. Once arguing about an alleged underpayment on First Capital Connect, I proferred a note to be allowed to avoid a swingeing fine and a possible Criminal Record: in that the alleged miscreant was travelling on a Zone 5 area with a Zone 4 travel card. The Gauleiter looked at my tastefully blue Scottish Five Pound note and said, with some scorn: 'we don't take that here' ' It is legal tender I said, Clydesdale Bank, no less*,' ' Sorry Mate we only accept British currency'

AS the train was pulling into Palmers Green I had to find something less ethnic so as to not miss our stop. But I managed to point out as my Parthian shot: Scotland is still in Britain.

When I last looked anyhow'

A line I might not be able to use much longer if the Salmond Tendency have their way.

* On reflection 'Clydesdale Bank' may lack gravitas. Sounds more like a sort of horse but their money is pretty enough


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

This Little Pig Didn't

A bloggee has drawn this splendid letter to Huttonian's attention. Although it has been the rounds for a few months it is worth another airing especially to a rural audience

Rt Hon David Miliband MP Secretary of State,

Department for Environment,

Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),

Nobel House

17 Smith Square,



16 May 2007

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business.
In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100?

I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year.

As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops.

Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?

I am also considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?

In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits.

I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.

Yours faithfully,

(Name withheld to avoid lionisation)

If only local landowners could take a leaf out of this book and perhaps the Laird could make another fortune from not building on Knowes Close.

That would be worth him not getting his Peerage.

(The image is of a pig which presumably escaped the non-rearing subsidy)


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The blog has been credited with a number of attributes, not all flattering, over the past four years but breaking new ground (no pun intended) in archaeology is a first for Huttonian. If you visit http://www.oldwarrenpointforum.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=708 you will see that members of a local history club were not aware of the existence of a very striking Dolmen (possibly a burial tomb) until coming across this image from the blog of about two years ago. A link to an archaeological site with information about similar sites in Ireland in one of the posts is worth following. It is astonishing that this unrecorded feature has remained 'unknown' for so long in recent times anyhow. (I remember my aunt telling me about it as a good 'walk to point' in the 1950s) So strike one for Huttonian.

As usual with the odd (npi) bloggee exception has been taken to my 'humour'-although not recognised as such in this instance. Hint to Norn Iron Bloggers: to be safe, keep off religion. What else is there to laugh at? Asked an Ulster acquaintance of mine?
Well, still beware. As it has often been said, religous/political jokes in deeply divided societies are:

No Laughing Matter.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008
  Slash and Burn in Berwickshire?

Slash and Burn in Berwickshire?
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
I am intrigued by the Paxton House Trust School of Land Management. You call in a contractor and you chop down quite a few trees presumably to harvest the wood . Fair enough. A valuable and renewable resource. But some of the wood-quite a lot- is allowed to fall down a steep bank into the burn which runs down to the Tweed. Some of this timber you painfully haul up the bank, other bits you let lie where they are and one day a nice little spate will carry them down to Spittall and join the rest of the flotsam and jetsam on the beach. A bit wasteful that imho.

But curious this. All that useful kindling wood and smaller branches you turn into attractive little bonfires on both sides of the burn and you let them blaze away for hours. No backsides to warm down there and not even hibernating Red Squirrels benefit from this seasonal cheer.

A nice liitle addition to Paxton House's carbon footprint.

What is going on?

We should be told.

But we won't.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Army recruiters 'misleading young' is a headline on AOL news.

Reminds me of a recruiting poster going the rounds when Huttonian was serving Queen and country :





Someone told me this was a spoof.

Surely Not.

Just honest.



Bordering on the ridiculous

With apparently 40% of Scots favouring independence in a poll in December it is refreshing to revisit Eric Robson's interesting account of a walk along the Border as recorded in The Border Line-published in 2006. After a rather downbeat description of the delights of Coldstream, that wild frontier outpost-he quotes from an article by Matthew Engel, a Grudien reporter, about the apparent lack of nationalism on either side of the Border;

" The sparsely populated communities of north Northumberland don't feel intensely English as they know London thinks Damn All about them. Some people even support Scotland at sport which would be unthinkable in reverse. The nearby Scottish towns are largely sufficient unto themselves. They have to be as the road links are wretched and the railways non-existent. The inhabitants are as suspicious of Glasgow and Edinburgh as they are of London.....If Glaswegians are 90- minute Nats, caring for Scotland only when the football is on, Borderers appear to be 80- minute Nats-the duration of a rugby match'

Mr Robson is very anti the idea of independence for Scotland-sensible bloke-so he may not be an impartial observer and I much enjoyed his description of Norham Bridge, across the Tweed, likely to be known after independence as:

Checkpoint Jimmy

I must take slight issue with Mr Engel. Roads are far from wretched in most cases and free of traffic. Perhaps see 5 or 6 cars between Hutton and Kelso on an average day. (Fishwick is of course an exception-traffic jams galore) Railhead at Berwick is quite enough for my needs thankyou and we can do without the Waverley Line. As for 50/40 minute nationalists. Try Melrose where a game of Rugby VIIs lasts about ten minutes. Thats quite enough nationalism for grown ups.

The image is of Coldstream Bridge. An alternative border crossing to Checkpoint Jimmy. It brings you to Scotland's First Border Toon-or away from it as the fancy takes you.

A protege of Robert (Rabbi) Burns (later disowned) wrote about it:

Hail fair structure of the Bridging Race:
Safely across Tweed's Bonnie Banks
To Engerland, Fair Albion's Face
Away from Hame: To God give Thanks

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Sunday, January 06, 2008
  Zoe - Cockleburn Beach

Zoe - Cockleburn Beach
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Nice shot. Nice girl. Nice beach?

Er.No. THe wider Huttonian family and three members of it-all Flickr Slickrs have inadvertently invented Cockleburn Beach. Yes of course-know it well: 8 miles south of Ber Wick Erpon Tweed? Actually that is Cocklawburn. Sounds much the same when spoken through a mouthful of beer or a £2.50 cornet with a Cadbury Flake.

Sorry Northumberland Tourist Board. Sorry to those 1000s of trippers who have come from as far away as Alynwick, Belford and Duns in search of this top beach destination. You won't find it under that name.

Go to Flickr and enter Cocklawburn in the search engine. Nice beach to be sure. But not as nice

as ours.
Saturday, January 05, 2008

A bloggee has sent me the above image. You will need to click on it to enlarge it sufficiently to appreciate the clever topiary work at the bottom of the greenhouse. The bloggee gives no provenance but there is a suggestion that it could be part of a gardening enterprise near Hutton. Assuming it is not PJ's market garden Huttonian is not able to pin it down. Is 'Sex and Death' a clue? Sex first followed by Death one assumes, but not necessarily immediately. 'The Grave is a fine and private place but none do there I think embrace' wrote Andrew Marvell to his Coy Mistress. But there is no evidence that he was referring to Hutton.

Freddie Burns, the 'Berwickshire Herd', no relation to the Rabbi, once said apropos of an unspecified Merse settlement. 'Yon place has sex and death in equal measure and the funerals are well attended'


A small prize for the correct identification of the image. Meal for two at the Reston Station Buffet. Eventually

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
The weather forecast said ' Rain becoming drizzle later' so of course it snowed. Very hard. And it froze. Cutting Hutton off from the rest of the known world -mainly because being the New Year Scottish Borders Council lacked the 'Resources' to grit the roads. Resources preferring the comfort of their own homes, a dram or two, and New Year Telly to gainful employment. These images were taken 10-15 minutes after the blizzard started. And today it is as if yesterday had enjoyed balmy zephyrs and blazing sunshine.

I wonder if that is it for the year?

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Originally uploaded by erase
Fishwick Special Branch is grateful to Erase for this glimpse of a novel solution to Dog poo in the Borders. Specially trained suicide dogs can go for unescorted walks and the little plastic bags they are trained to carry vaporise with them.

Room G.04 is much more interesting but for security reasons.....

Terrierist Dogs are not unknown in certain parts of the world

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Number of women drink drivers causes concern

Is the second main headline in today's Berwickshire and it goes on

Two drivers caught in second week of Borders campaign

ALTHOUGH a fortnight when many people clocked off for Christmas and enjoyed a party of two, the number of drink drivers took a downturn in the week December 17-30.
Three drivers were caught under the influence in the Borders in the first week of the nationwide festive campaign but this fell to two over the course of the second week. This is exactly half the number of offenders who were detected at the same time last year.
And for week three there was just one, which is equal to last year's figure and and brings the total so far to five which is lower than the result for the same period in 2006.
Of the drivers caught during the past fortnight one was detected in Galashiels on December 22 and a police spokesperson has confirmed that a driver was arrested for driving under the influence in Peebles on Christmas Day.
So far the campaign is going well for G Division (Borders), with the present figures suggesting that drivers are starting to get the message about the risks and consequences of drink-driving.
However, with week four including New Year's Eve which sees more than its fair share of revellers across Scotland it's still too early to tell if the overall figure for 2007 will represent a step in the right direction.
The results for the whole of the Lothian and Borders Force area were less encouraging with 35 drivers being caught in total for week two. This is substantially higher than the figure of 28 for the same period last year.
The figures for week three follow suit with 38 drivers caught in total, up on 2006's figure of 32.
Statistics released by the Association of Chief Police Officers show that drink drivers are coming from both genders and all age groups.The total number of drivers caught under the influence so far in this year's festive crackdown stands at 657, and of this total over 100 of those caught were female.
Assistant Chief Constable Jim Green, Secretary of the ACPOs Road Policing Business Area, said: "It is a disappointing statistic that over 100 female drivers have been found to be over the drink drive limit since the festive safety campaign began. I am also alarmed at the number of young drivers detected by officers as having been drinking or taking drugs before driving.
"For many years there was a perception that middle aged male drivers were the worst offenders when it came to drink driving but our figures show that a wide spectrum of people in Scotland are taking a risk with their safety and the safety of others."

The Borders come quite well with only 6 drivers nicked over the three weeks of Christmas out of 657 in all Scotland. Mind you given the empty roads around here half a dozen cars could represent a high percentage of vehicles on the road.

I don't know about the incidence of drunken female drivers. But in my experience a very high proportion of aggressive and inconsiderate driving can be put down to the distaff side. Usually the culprit is in a 4wd and a few have FWAG* written all over them. One other Borders type is the person always complaining about dangerous drivers whilst she (in the instance I am thinking about) propels her vehicle very slowly and in a way which makes it difficult to be overtaken thus raising the blood pressure of anyone unfortunate enough to be stuck behind her.

Fortunately the person in question rarely heads towards Duns

(* Farmers' Wives and Girl Friends-Blog-ed)

The image is from Fishwick Traffic Police Files: allegedly taken through the windscreen of a car on the Fishwick Bypass on a New Year's eve. The Driver was allegedly over the limit and in possession of a half eaten Magic Mushroom

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Where there's Muck....

Hutton Think Tank have been asked by VisitScotland to analyse the quantity and quality of public signs/notices in the Merse area providing warm greetings and other information for visitors. At the bottom of the numerical list with three sightings is 'Welcome to Scotland' , 'Scottish Borders, Scotland's Favourite Short Break Destination' just avoids relegation with four. The Top Three in ascending order are : 3rd: (45 sightings) Signs for Dog Pooh Disposal; 2nd: 'You are Being Watched-Neighbourhood Watch (51) and in runaway top spot: 'Mud on Road' (108)

The last group are invariably home made and also win the quality category.

Well done our public spirited farmers. And if as much energy was put into actually clearing the mud as warning about it.

We would be even more delighted

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Berwick: England /Scotland

Berwick Rangers, Northumberland's answer to a number of questions, is the only English football team to play in the Scottish League. Right. Berwick upon Tweed is in England. Right. But where, nationaly, is the B-u-T branch of the Bank of Scotland? Huttonian only asks as today is a Bank Holiday in Scotland. It is full working day in Protestant ethical England. Gloriously open were Lloyd's, Barclay's, Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation-and that symbol of Scottish Banking Expansionism : The Royal Bank of Scotland. But we wanted the Bank of Scotland. Closed. In sympathy with its cousins across the Border or making a statement about Berwick being Scottish (or the staff had slept in?)

Berwick is resolutely ambivalent about its national loyalties. Saltires generally outnumber Crosses of St George and Union Flags. Dour stone buildings shout 'Scotland' and the pubs erupt in cheering when the English try line is crossed-by anyone.

Today, banking aside, there are compensations for Berwick's Gallic mistiness. The major shops were open. And empty despite the New Year Sales. So deserted was Homebase that a salesperson, normally as elusive as visible human life in Hutton, actually asked if we needed help. As it happened we didn't but its nice to be asked.

Bank holidays are something of an issue around here so I was not surprised to see a large placard outside a local shop inviting customers to sign a petition demanding an extra national Bank Holiday. I might have done. But as it wasn't a bank holiday, except in Scotland, the shop was


If you see whatI mean

(The image is of the new Bank of Scotland £10 note. Acceptable everywhere accept the rest of the UK. And obtainable everywhere in Scotland and Berwick upon Tweed. Except today)

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Year of the ?

Dreich, damp, murk,breathless (wind wise, my lungs are fine thankyou very much) and grisly grey. Welcome 2008. Careful inspection of garden has not revealed any spent rockets so I suspect the Glasga' lot at the bottom of Kirk Lane were not indulging in pyrotechnics early this morning. Deathly quiet in Hutton, but then it always is dqiH

I was not quite in bed by 10pm so saw the Sydney New Year in. So I have no personal images of the New Year arriving in the UK. So I am very indebted to someone who took the trouble to stay up until 7 seconds after midnight to photograph, courtesy of the TV, Big Ben and get the picture onto Flikr before anyone else could. And all from the comfort of her Christmas Sales' armchair. An inspiring shot and next year I might well go out and photograph Duns' answer to Big Ben ( Little Jimmy?)and paste in some Photoshopped fireworks)

If I am spared, of course.

The other image is the Old Manse Garden seeing in-just about, 2008. 'Ou sont les neiges d'antan?' asked the French Poet. Gone with Global warming, every one. But Les Dreichs d'aujourdhui are still very much around.

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Happenings in A small Scottish Community


Comments to Huttonian

Disgruntled Commuter

Town Mouse

Oz Blog

Zoe Blog


Mike Bishop

British Bloggers Directory

Digital Moon

Havering On

Country Strife

Coldstream Pipe Band

Flyte-Tipping and Other Pastimes

'Top Scottish Websites' - www.our-scotland.org

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