Musings from the Merse
Monday, March 31, 2008

Planning. Trouble at t'mill

Its good to know that our very transparent planning system sometimes seems to work: Cognoscenti should once again visit:


and look at the 2nd application under the Hutton and Paxton Community Council bailiwick: House at Hutton Castle Mill. Bloggees with average memories will recall how popular response has led to an unpopular planning application for four new houses, just down the road, being withdrawn. People power in the form of an angry (but reasoned) comments recorded on this website helped to ensure that with the developer having second thoughts.Does not often happen but good sense prevailed.

In the HCM case the 'associated documents' are worth a read. In support of an application to build a house for a gamekeeper on site to look after the pheasantery, Guinea fowlness, salmon and trout fishing, self catering converted mill on behalf of the main agent for a syndicate who lives in Paxton-excellent idea. But wait- this document is dated November 2004! And we can recall that there actually is a house, recently built and lo and behold the occupant is no other than the gamekeeper who has been in occupation of a very pleasant dwelling for a couple of years. All the other papers, including the formal
application relate to a new house-bungalow- for, yes, a gamekeeper (indeed the same self guy), with exactly the same justification as the original application three and a half years ago. Urgency is stressed as the agent in Paxton really needs some one on the spot to look after his interests in the depths of the Whiteadder valley.

One can only speculate. And one does.

The Planning department at mediumheidyins level, at least, don't seem too impressed and having pointed out that there is one house there already -not a bungalow as it happens- (a fact omitted from the application and its supporting docs) reminds the applicant that permission was given for that house on the understanding that it was for just one building and for the purposes (tied to a gamekeeper) stated in the 2004 application, wonders,politely, what in earth is going on, and suggests equally politely that it might be best if the application be withdrawn.

It might indeed.

Strike one for the Planners.
For once.

In the meanwhile the Guinea Fowl at the mill peck on happily, seemingly not caring if they are to have a two house gamekeeper, or not.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008
Baby's First Blog

In the wider Huttonian family bloggers are encouraged to start young. Here the youngest granddaughter is honing her drafting skills before being allowed on the computer. As you can see her first language is Welsh. She has also been asked to provide an official photo for BabyFace Book. Here it is as well.She looks a bit of a ginga but I think it is a trick of the light as she is certainly not a flaming red like her sister. Thankyou junior son in law for alowing me to nick these images from his flickr. I will repay with interest when in N13 next week.

If I am spared.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Was Wordsworth Here?

I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
In lake land bright and Surrey's Sutton
But sadly not in frigid Hutton

Global Warming Indication No 67: Hutton Spring Unsprung.Late March

The ice caps may be melting but Hutton isn't and the wretched Daffs are in a state of arrested development and have been for the past fortnight-whilst in the balmy south they have been out for a month or more. The images show the usually prolific daffodil areas on the road leading to the Kirk and in the southern garden in the Old Manse. There are some out but only where the cold north wind could not get at them. The group featured were less than 3 metres from the not yet perhaps never flowering variety. But even they have an apologetic air about them.

Is this something to do with the SNP government?

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Friday, March 28, 2008
Burghers Bite Back

I don't usually pass on video clips sent in by bloggees but in this case I will make an exception:


Thanks Realise

I just wish it would catch on. One day it will: all the Big Macs turning not only on their human bosses in the restaurants (McDonald 'Restaurant'-another oxymoron?) but also on those hordes of litter louts that scatter the packaging over the Borders' roads hurrying through Scotland'favourite pitstop destination. In this case it is the establishment at LOANING MEADOWS , next to Sir Morrison's where I hope the burghers will I have their revenge

'Pass the Ketchup please. Thanks-That's a good Mac. This tattooed hairy arsed caravanner is a bit dry but I can't be bothered to send him back'

Thankyou McDonalds for this image. The joint is closed. The customers have all been eaten and the Big Macs are on the rampage heading towards Morrison's. Armageddon. Hallelujah

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Thursday, March 27, 2008
Tar Tar For Now

There must be some cash still swilling around in the Scottish Borders Roads' budget for FY 2007/8 as there is a sudden rush of pothole filling going on in these here parts. Quite often the budget for repairs is exhausted by July -or so we used to be told when we wanted a quick repair job done. But now road gangs (not usually chained together) are out and about. To my eye the technique seems Third World-or perhaps not quite as advanced. Take one small lorry. Add a couple of blokes. Issue them with small buckets full of steaming tar. Ask them to fill in all available potholes, crumbled edges and other impurities within, say, fifty yards (having thoughtfully partially blocked the carriageway with an arrangement of barrels and old planks. Traffic lights optional.

Once holes filled, add loose sand and chippings- watch for a bit-its more interesting than paint drying, go off for dinner. This is not always hazard free. I noticed yesterday having just driven past a TOA (Tarring Operation Area) the lorry reversing away from the barrel/plank protection barrier straight into two large tar filled potholes scooping out the contents. Back to the pails but after dinner wll do.

Third World methodology, First World weather. Hand filled pot holes in tropical Zambia dry and sort of seal in a couple of hours. In the damp cold Merse they are as liquid at 5pm as they were at 11am. Lads off for tea and end of the working day. Up with the planks and the barrels. The open road is open again.

First tractor along b******S up the lot.

Mind you if you rolled them?

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Great Northumberland Breakfast is on its way!

is a small headline in the Berwick Advertiser.

Huttonian is a supporter of the Full Breakfast philosophy (but sadly has no longer the metabolism to enjoy it frequently) and is delighted to read that there is yet another ethnic variety in these parts. Apparently according to the article:

"Everyone has heard of a traditional full English, Scottish or Irish breakfast but what about the Great Northumberland Breakfast?

It could mean Craster kippers, stottie cake, grilled Lindisfarne oysters and Craster smoked salmon with Sunny Hill free range scrambled eggs or locally produced sausages and bacon."

Could it indeed? But how about oh VisitScotland.Come (the new website soon to be launched on an indifferent world) sponsoring the Big Borders Breakfast? (aka the Caravanners Special)

It could mean a hefty helping of Sir Morrison's High Fat Chips, a Big Mac from next door (with easily-out-of the-- car-- window -disposable -plastic wrapping), a slice of cold Haggis,ditto cold Pizza,6 greasy battery eggs, Organic Neeps,Paxton Poached Salmon on the bone, large dollup of Rentons Brown Sauce, half a loaf of sliced sweet white bread, washed down with a family sized bottle of Coke with a tot of Iron Bru on the side.

Breakfast all day would just about cover it. Price to pay?

Up all night might cover that as well.

(The image, from Hobart, is of the Tiny Tasmanian Breakfast)

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rah For Reston
Mr John Lamont (pronounce;lemon with a t-not tea with lemon)our energetic in-your-face MSP, a Tory to boot (no pun intended) keeps in touch with his faithful via the Mound of Information column in the Berwickshire News. A feature used by his LibDem predecessor as a commentary on what was happening in the Scottish Parliament and not primarily as a Party Political Puff as (ab)used by Mr L. Young John climbs onto every bandwagon in sight, reflecting what he gauges as the popular mood-this week for example he is supporting a community buy out of Coldingham Youth Hostel-good-no dumping (but recycling) of old analogue TVs-very good and bring back Reston Station. 'Its a shame ' says he that trains hurtle through Berwickshire and 'there is no station to serve the local people' So bring back Reston with its famous no ham sandwich facility.

The fact is that Berwickshire is hardly a hub of urbanised society. Further West the Waverley Line, that monument to public money waste on a grand scale, is to serve the main centres of population : Galashiels, Melrose, St Boswells etc. And here in depopulated Neutron Bomb Alley in the East we already have a very nice station at Ber Wick. OK, its not (yet) in Berwickshire but it is just as able to serve the more populated areas of Eastern Berwickshire like Eyemouth (9 miles from Berwick) as Reston a mere 3 miles closer to Eyemouth, but in time little difference). Whilst around us in the Fishwick Conurbation Berwick is the natural choice for a main line service. Duns too, given the differing quality of roads is almost time wise as close to Berwick as it is to Reston. And Berwick with its shops and other urban facilities is a more sensible home for a rail station than one horse, shop less, bankless Reston (assuming someone can find the horse)And further north Dunbar should be the station of choice and it is only just out of Berwickshire.

So Mr L should ask himself is a station in Reston a really cost effective public service solution or just another, locally popular (give the horse a vote) lost cause for a politician on the make?

The image is from Hutton Think Tank 'Heritage' Files. Labels may have been confused (as often happens in the HTx2 archives) but it said to be Reston Halt before Dr Beeching did for it.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

McMansions in the Merse, revisited

Anyone interested in the rash of McMansions breaking out all over the beautiful Borders countryside should go to http://eplanning1.scotborders.gov.uk/WAM/doc/Drawing-2067409.pdf?extension=.pdf&id=2067409&location=VOLUME1&contentType=application/pdf&pageCount=1&appid=1

to see one at the planning application stage- Equestrian Holdings just off the Fishwick Bypass is the case in point. It will be a lot of house (for a lot of horse?) for the 800 grand or so being respectfully requested for similar edifices in the immediate vicinity. There is a fine artists impression of the main building including an image of the thrusting businessman owner bringing much needed investment to the underdeveloped rural Borders talking on his mobile to a financier in some far flung money market-or perhaps he is just checking train arrivals at Reston Station.

Sharp eyed bloggees will note that the TBO is on the first floor. Is this because the artist reckons that he looks good there-a sense of scale if not a sense of place in planning lingo? Or is it that

he can't get a signal


Worth enquiring? Caveat Emptor and all that

(The image which is from a Dubai planning portfolio could well be a model for the New Greater Fishwick. According to Hutton Think Tank-(Vision Thing Section)should this model be followed the tall tower would be for the Fishwick Special Branch and the Traffic Control offices)

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

screams the front page of The Berwickshire about how a plan to build a waste incinerator near Dunbar has run into such strong opposition that the company (Viridor) has put the project on hold. So no planning permission for the Incinerator.

Hold on a moment says Anxious of Ayton. Fine about the Incinerator. But did they ever get permission for the

Back Burner?

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Saturday, March 22, 2008
Paradise Postponed. Again

Never mock the boys in the BBC Blether Centre. AS a revenge for past slights, real or imaginary, they decided that 'North East England'(including Hutton) was the target for the Easter Weekend. And revenge is a dish eaten very very cold In a space of three minutes this early am we had huge hail stones, hissing rain, bright sunshine and blizzard snow-not together-separately. And throughout relentless northerly winds making a snug 2C 'feel like' (as the bs in the bbcbc put it) -15.

A casualty of today's Global Freezing is the long planned expedition to rediscover Fishwick Kirk which allegedly exists somewhere between down town Fishwick and the Scottish bank of the Tweed. Only accessible when the grass and nettles are low and the bull locked away elsewhere. But to day with more blizzards on the way, the air full of hurtling branches and frequent outbreaks of blinding sun forecast thus invalidating articles 23 -56 of the Saga Insurance small print:

Forget it.

(The image is of the Tweed taken in warmer days from not far from Fishwick Kirk, allegedly-thankyou Old Grey Wolf of Flickr fame)

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Go llama trekking at St Abbs Head!

New venture is unque in Scotland

Is the start of a feature in this week's Berwickshire and it goes on:

ALTHOUGH he's currently busy with his own art exhibition, a St Abbs man is about to launch another animal-inspired activity.
Not content with letting the Berwickshire public look at his paintings of animals at Duns Library, Peter Marshall is now offering people the chance to get a lot closer to two of his pets.
But these aren't your everyday domestic companions; Sammy and Niko are two llamas that Peter has been training up for the past few weeks to get them ready for guided trails around St Abb's Head.
And despite the topsy turvy weather we've been experiencing of late, the llamas have been adapting well to their new surroundings and Peter is confident they'll prove a popular attraction.
"It's really a case of the calmer the weather is, the calmer they are. I think the weather up here is colder than what they're used to but they are coping well.
"At the moment they're in a paddock near the Nature Reserve and I've created a shelter for them. They need quite a lot of space to move around in and at the moment they've got just over half an acre."
And what makes Peter's venture so unique, is that after going onto to various websites, including the official British Llama Society site, he's discovered that he is the only certified person to be offering llama trekking in the whole of Scotland.
"It's great that no-one else is doing it at the moment and I'm hoping it will be successful - I just hope the weather is kind to us although there are other routes we can take people if it's too windy

Well a real Borders first and another reason for making it your favourite short break destination. But I am slightly puzzled as to the exact meaning of trekking in this context. Its not clear from the article (and there is a lot more in the paper) if you are meant to ride the beasts-and they look rather fragile so the average caravanner better not try, or, it seems more likely, just go for a walk with them. Perhaps they might manage to carry your sandwiches and a small thermos. If it is the latter the concept might catch on around these parts-as many owners of the more exotic breeds of dogs (eg the Hutton Hare Hound, the Paxton Polished Poodle) would be delighted if people would pay good cash to take them for a trek?

I wonder if pooper scoopers and plastic bags are included in the safari accessories?

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Indecisive notice
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Oh Dear, Oh Dear, Oh Dear.I really hoped we had seen the last of this craven notice at the top of the path leading down to the Tweed from Paxton House. But it is back for the new season. Thought Unsuitable? Oh Boy. Its not the steep gradient thats the main problem -it is the steep flights of steps-32 steps in all. Why cannot the Paxton House management show some leadership and say :

This Path is not suitable for wheelchairs. Flights of steps.

The truth will set you free.

The second image, of some of the steps, says it all



Borders Layby
Originally uploaded by davydubbit
Thankyou davydubbit for this image of the Scottish Border-the custom post and passport control to the left is I think a caff serving decent English scoff before facing the privations of Haggis, Neaps and a Full Scottish Breakfast All Day. I blog this only because of a little item in today's Berwickshire News reporting the theft of English flags from the 'Border Crossing' on the A1 at Lamberton, three miles north of Ber Wick. The Head of Regeneration (ugh) in the BBC (Berwick Borough Council) has said that thieves have 'yet again ruined the experience for visitors by stealing these flags' All those bus loads of people fleeing the barren wilds of Alba are bitterly disappointed by not having their hearts lifted by a glimpse of the Cross of St George before filling in their forms claiming political asylum and lower social security benefits.

One suspects the work of the BLF (Berwick Liberation Front) making a statement about the correct positioning of the border.

Or perhaps they are just yobs.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sweet Smell of Spring

There's a fine brownish haze on the meadow its not from corn as high an elephant's eye but thickly laid excrement aka slurry. The meadow is due north, just beyond the old Glebe field and a soft northern wind is wafting in a sweet aroma, which once into your nostrils tends to stay there like Tom Cat territory marking fluid.And with a northerly airstream forecast for the next few days, the music may die but the melody will linger on. And on.

In the meanwhile the in house mouses are already, it seems, starting their preparations for a long cold summer. I had wondered why the wife's store of nuts for No 6 bird feeder was so depleted. The Mices, presumably worried about the possible effects of global financial meltdown have filled the feet of two pairs of wellies with luscious brown (the colour of the month) peanuts. Very full. This has involved them climbing up two shelves of the boot rack,then up the boots, depositing a nut or two and then climbing down again, back into the kitchen for more, and so on. Who says Mouses have no work ethic?

A neighbouring cynic does. He wonders if a three year old visiting granddaughter
might have, if left unattended, done this job. Perhaps indulging herself in a game of imagination and terror? Here we go hiding Nuts in March? An unworthy thought, Sir. A granddaughter of mine! Come on.

I prefer to blame the Meece.

I apologise for the quality of the telephoto image of the Slurry Spreader with the Tractor in Front. Without anti-biological warfare kit ot was impossible to get nearer. Click to see picture in full horrorscope

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lies,Damn Lies, Statistics and Opinion Polls

The Berwickshire has a series of running polls on every conceivable subject from Ber Wick 'returning' to Scotland to the merits of wind farms in the Lammermuirs.

One is of some historical interest with regard to the closing of Eccles Primary School as part of a round of schools closures in the Borders which sunk Hutton. The question was

Is Scottish Borders Council right to keep Eccles school open?

75% said yes and 25 % said no

Now that may have not been the right answer for the Highheidyins in St Boswells so the question was cunningly rephrased (by some stickler for Borders Grammer, as she/it/they is/are writ?)

Are Scottish Borders right to keep Eccles school open?

Vote Results Yes 0% No 0%

Great result for the Educational Gurus who could go around saying, quite truthfully, on the basis of this poll that no one wants to keep the school open.

As it happened the school was not closed-a triumph for the 75% who voted in the wrong poll. But no one asked a question about Hutton.

Its like the old chestnut. What is more correct?:

Yokes of Eggs are white


Yokes of Eggs is white.

If you don't know, ask your local councillor.

If it is Big Jim Fullarton.

Ask someone else.

Incredibly, Flickr has no image of Hutton School-nor is there one in my 137strong collection of pictures of the village. So this photo of a Toad, seen crossing the main road, not far from the school will just have to do. Apologies

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Tweed Misseries?

Some Italian put into Google 'sexy shop fishwick' see http://www.google.it/search?hl=it&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=sexy%20shop%20fishwick&spell=1 And out came a link to Huttonian. Why? As far as I can recall I have never blogged about Sexy or even Sex shops in Fishwick or elsewhere. Who is this Italian? Has he pleasant, indeed warm, memories of a visit to these parts?. Or did he hear a wild rumour Does VisitScotland know about the apparent reputation of a Flesh trade on the banks of the Tweed. If so, what about the potential for local and international tourism? And, the 65,000 Euro* question : Where is Fishwick's 'Sexy Shop'? Forget about trying to find the well concealed Fishwick Kirk. That's strictly for the birds**. Some visitors may have more pressing needs

And if it is true: What a boost for the tourist Highheidyins. : Let us help you Cut Your Carbons: Don't Fly to Amsterdam-walk to Fishwick.

* I am getting out of Dollars
** Quite literally

The image is not of Fishwick. Any such establishment there is obviously better concealed

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  Spawn Ejaculations

Spawn Ejaculations
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
No not this year -last March. For some reason the Frogs coitus yesterday was interruptus or perhaps was confined to foreplay as the result of their efforts is not apparent this morning despite all the frenetic activity (see post below) With a very cold north wind blowing over the pond they may have decided to hold back a bit until we get a proper Spring
Sunday, March 16, 2008

Question: what is a sign of Spring and happens in Hutton the 16th of March?No, all the daffodils do not come out-unlike southron parts Hutton's Daffs are timorous and reluctant to bloom and who is to blame them in such a piercing northerly wind.

Bloggees with long memories will recall that on the day before St Patrick's Day, last year, Huttonian's pond became the scene of frenzied copulation. And dead on the button, 12 noon, 16th of March 2008 they are at it again.And this is Leap Year*. The images (click on them for full effect) tell some of the story-and one of them is from last March but who is to know? Unlike last year when they were going at it like the Jim Clarke Rally drivers at Bluestane Ford, a great spectator sport, this new generation of frenetic fathers are a modest lot and I needed patience and the skill of a deer stalker to catch them on the surface-one image is of the pond when I clicked a nano second too late to freeze the action.I suspect however when they start into ' I am All Right Ejack'they won't care who is watching and that could be later to day if the pond does not freeze over in the current cold snap.

* Further research on the blog reveals that the Frogs First Frigging took place on the 17th March 2005 but, as late as the 30th two years ago.

PS Leap Year. Usual Caveats Apply as the academics unwilling to commit themselves are inclined to say: Otherwise : No pun intended

Not further proof of Global Warming claims Hutton Think Tank-but just evidence that Frog's calenders are very inaccurate.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Scots and Irish come second

The bloggee who not so long ago drew Huttonian's attention to Englands's defeat by Scotland at rugby has been somewhat reticent over this afternoon's result from Rome. The same reticence may also apply to the events at Twickenham where England had a good day at the office. The Bhoys in the Pubs in both Drogheda and Dundalk will be crying into their stout, poor lads. There are other things than being good at Rugby.

As both the Irish and the Scots have known for some time

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The following notice in the Berwickshire caught Huttonian's eye:

DUNS Summer Festival organisers want to hear from anyone over the age of 18 who lives within a three mile radius of Duns and is interested in joining this year's Reiver's party to lead Duns Summer Festival celebrations in July and represent the town at summer festivals throughout the Borders.
Anyone interested is asked to contact:

I am over 18.

I will soon be living in as down town in Duns as is possible.

Should I apply?

(that is a rhetorical question)

Thankyou catfink' for your flickr image of Borders' Reivers.It is apparently modern and therefore unlikely to be genuine 14th C. The riders seem to be taking it easy after a day of carousing, rapine and raiding. Nice work if you could get it and the Duns Summer Festival may be a good a starting point as any

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Returning from golf at Duns (MPBUI) I was horrified to find our recycling at the bottom of Kirk Lane-where the denizens of this corner of our rural paradise had lovingly deposited their Friday offering to Planet Cooling. Bins emptied and returned but purple and transparent bags still there. Oh dear what had we done to flout the rules or offend the Environmental Hygenists?

No, not our fault it transpired. The EH's Lorry had just not been able to get through a mass of mourners exiting Hutton Kirk after a well attended local funeral. Not able to hang around they had gone on the rest of their round. Wait until next Friday then? No, hope not. Highheidyins in the senior echelons of the Borders Council (Rubbish, Nuclear waste and land fill section) have instructed the Knights of the Road to return tomorrow and strut their stuff, as it were.

Hope they do, Don't want to expose all our empty tonic water cans to the public scrutiny for too long. No gin involved but who would

believe that.

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Worthy of his Hire

Yesterday saw Huttonian's last trip this academic year to Embra for pontfications at the Uni. Hard days work for once with two tutorials and an extended seminar. A recent development as been the paying of my rail expenses-I used to calaculate that after adding my lecture fee onto my total earnings, deducting the taxman's cut and the travel costs I made 25 p on each visit. Now it is a bit heavier in the pocket. Being an Honorary Fellow I have no official place in the pay structure and I used to wonder out of what particular cost centre my fee came. 'Expert Consultancies'? 'Academic Outsourcing'?, 'Visiting Lecturers'? ' Guest Pontifications'? It couldn't be 'payment for Honorary Fellows' as that would border on the oxymoronic.

I checked on my last years pay advice. In bold

To be charged to :

Casual Labour

There's posh for you.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008
National Sloth East Coast

Mistake to speak too ill of National Express, that well known Oxymoron. Their revenge is to take advantage of broken over head power cables* in southron parts to more or less cancel all their services north of Doncaster today. 'We advise you to delay your journey until Friday' is their wise advice. I have three teaching sessions today, Thursday, in Embra so the advice may be wise but not too helpful. I hope that Virgin Cross Country can come to my aid-going north may be possible but as their last train south via Berwick is 1705 and my last tutorial ends at 1800....

One can't help feeling that GNER would have tried a bit harder.

* Do Diesels need overhead power??

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Wrong sort of Rail company on track. Again

I am glad to be excused lecturing at Embra today as the train companies have gone into a state of collective confusion, if not panic, over the terrible storms issued by the BBC Blether people. Not all companies to be fair, but locally, National Express rival even the cheese eating surrender monkeys: two of their Trains cancelled :'High Winds'. One from Glasgow and one from Edinburgh. Yet somehow the Inverness service, on the same track from Embra, exposed to the same force 22 winds is on time! And the Cross Country (Virgin) from Aberdeen, ditto, ditto, is 3 minutes early. From the website: Here is the evidence http://www.livedepartureboards.co.uk/ldb/sumarr.aspx?T=BWK


Glasgow Central 11:41 Cancelled National Express East Coast
Aberdeen 11:49 11:46 CrossCountry
Inverness 11:52 On time National Express East Coast
London Kings Cross 12:08 12:10 National Express East Coast
Edinburgh 12:39 Cancelled National Express East Coast

Outside the window gentle Hutton Zephyrs warm the pre-Spring chill

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  No, Not Spittal

Stormy weather - Waves breaking at Freshwater Bay
Originally uploaded by s0ulsurfing
We could not quite match this seascape in the Borders during the recent 'storm' (Thankyou S0ulsurfing) Despite the surge, the spring tides and the strong winds emanating from the BBC Blether Centre, Spittal was not swept away. Some serious disruptions, as in BBC speak, however' have been reported-large chunks of Dog Poo, for which Spittal is justly famous have been scooped up from the usual safety of the beach onto the Spittal promenade thus presenting a serious hazard to those innocent pedestrians who have ventured out. There are also some reports of high sided shoppers having been blown over blocking footpaths but no serious injury.

Reports of defecating dogs being swept out to sea are unconfirmed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Huttonian, for a special treat, after several hours of pontification at the uni, upgraded himself to First Class from Embra to Ber Wick. If lucky you can claw back some of the extra cost by getting free tea and a shortbread biccie both on leaving Waverley Street and after stopping at Dunbar. But those were the good old days of GNER.

National Express has a different approach to First Class service: No tea trolley with the freebie goodies-just a rather smart 'crew member' with a teapot which ran out just before Dunbar and appeared refilled as we were pulling into Berwick. I got a sip and a scalded mouth as I disembarked.

I was not the only disappointed customer. The very important businessman in front of me, still running his vast empire by mobile phone, hands on stuff and was actually finding few of his underlings contactable-office closed (we are talking 6pm) and they had wisely switched off their phones at home or en route. This he found frustrating. He sought solace in food. He buttonholed the tea pot lady and asked about the Dining Car. Not until Doncaster. No good to me I get off at York. Can I order from the 'At Seat Menu-First Class food in First Class Surroundings. Of course said the TPL. The following dialogue ensued:

VIB : I'll have the Bacon and cheese roll
TPL :Sorry. But I can recommend the scrambled egg baguette.
VIB : What about the Breakfast All Day in a Bun.
TPL : Not available after 5pm
VIB : So its not 'All Day'
TPL : It is- up to 5pm . How about the scrambled egg? I can really recommend it.
VIB : What else have you got?
TPL : Most selections require the presence of our Chef.
VIB: And?
TPL: He does not get on until Doncaster
VIB: I suppose I had better have the ****** Scrambled ******* egg baguette
TPL : If I may say so Sir-an excellent choice

Can we get GNER back


(thank you Mr Flickr for the one image they have of GNER food. Eat your heart out Nat Express. You might as well with nothing else on offer)

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Hope Berwickers will be given chance to settle own future writes a self styled Aussie/Scot-but not Mel Gibson-he goes on in his letter to the Berwick Advertiser:

SIR, — In response to the erudite letter from ‘Southron’ regarding the status of Berwick, I think his idea of a semi-independent town is appealing, but totally impracticable.
We do have small states in Europe such as San Marino, Monaco and the Vatican, but these are all sovereign and independent. A semi-independent town is another matter, and basically would be an extension of the status quo where English law, and nationality would prevail in the event of England and Scotland once more becoming two separate kingdoms (which I doubt will happen in the near future,) based on independence polls conducted in Scotland showing that, even since the advent of a Scottish Parliament support for this is still under 30%.
He mentions that Scotland should never encroach into Northern Northumberland including Spittal and Tweedmouth and I mostly agree with him, but firstly it has to be said that it was England who did the encroaching by occupying Berwick north of the Tweed.
I, like most Scots when discussing Berwick, refer only to the old Scottish burgh and not the suburbs south of the river which to us are in England. We have no desire to annex part of Northumberland and the First Minister in Scotland has confirmed this. Berwick-upon-Tweed is a different matter sitting on the north side, as it is technically not in England, only subject to English law and administration, so in the event of townsfolk electing to be Scots, there is no question of annexing or stealing a town from England.
Any referendum, or petition to be conducted should only be north of the river, in Berwick-upon-Tweed itself and their wishes recognised and acted upon. If the population in Tweedmouth and Spittal wished to conduct a separate second referendum to maintain the integrity of greater Berwick, so be it, but certainly their vote should not be counted on when resolving the old Scots burgh’s future.
At the end of the day Southron wishes the status quo, and I being Scots, as well as Australian, would like Berwick back in Scotland where the town would hopefully regain the prosperity it once enjoyed as a Scottish burgh and has never enjoyed since. I think there would be extraordinary tourist gains with the wealth they bring. It is a splendid gateway into Scotland, especially when you cross the Tweed by train over the Royal Border Bridge. The bridge’s name would then properly reflect the reality of the situation that you are crossing a border, which was no doubt what Queen Victoria intended when she named it.
Sincerely hope you Berwickers are given the chance to settle your own future and vote to return home. You can add my name to the many new tourists, as I will make a point of stepping off the train in Berwick next year.

Allowing (a) for Oz ignorance and (b) Nationalistic bias Mr T might recall, if he had asked someone in the know-that Berwick enjoyed semi autonomous status for many years with the town being neither in England not Scotland before being reunited (it had long been in English hands before the new status was promulgated) with England by act of the UK (not English) parliament. And I am not sure how being under Scottish rule would somehow restore its prosperity rather the reverse with the dead fiscal hand of Mr Salmond lying heavily on it-I do not think the good Burghers of Berwick would like his idea for local income tax for a start.

But he has one point. Royal Border Bridge. It is a bit odd in the circumstances. I suppose Queen Vic might have had a problem with Royal Not Too Far From the Border Bridge? And she could not have meant border with semi independent Berwick as when it was opened in 1850 the borough had lost it special status.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

The End is 40% nigh

The Blether Centre, run rather like an old fashioned Bookie, is laying odds, or rather percentages, as to the chances of being swept away by tonight and tomorrow's stormy weather:
As follows:
70% London & South East England
70% Wales
70% South West England
70% West Midlands
40% East of England
40% North West England
40% Northern Ireland
40% Yorkshire & Humber
40% East Midlands
40% SW Scotland, Lothian & Borders
20% Strathclyde
20% North East England

To quote from the choicer bits of the blurb:

"an intense low pressure system to move east across the UK during Monday, bringing severe gales and potentially damaging gusts across some areas:the early hours of Monday severe gales, an additional swathe of westerly severe gales to follow later on Monday into the early hours of Tuesday. Gusts of 60 to 70 mph , a possibility of 80 mph gusts over exposed coasts and hills. . Disruption could occur to transport, including the No 32 Berwick to Hutton bus, and power supplies- damage to buildings. ... Doom, Gloom, Emigration advised etc etc"

Note Lothian and the Borders-40% certainty of destruction but NE England including large chunks of TD15 only 20%. Should we book in at Canty's Brig B&B (just in North East England) for a threat lessened night or nip up to Strathclyde? The small house in Duns is a less high profile target than the Old Manse but it is deeper into Zone Red. Will I get to Embra for my pontifications tomorrow or will National Express be derailed metaphorically and literally-wrong kind of debris on track. ? 'The next station stop has been swept away. So we won't. Any inconvenience etc'

I may have to opt for a sickie

(The image is from Hutton Think Tank archives. Title labels have often got muddled so I cannot vouch for 'Storm over Fishwick')

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, in the evening.
Originally uploaded by Semi-detached
a bloggee has implied that Engereland lost to wooden spoon favourites at Murrayfield this afternoon. Incroyable as they say in these parts. Would explain the tears shed outside the ground, presumably by English fans, as shown in this image To lose to Wales is careless but to Scotland................(Dots fail me)

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In the latest Berwickshire News

Under a huge front page banner headline


there is a rather unusual picture of HRH Prince Edward aka the Duke of Wessex receiving 'a Siamese greeting' from a smartly dressed lady. Surely Prince Ed is not part of the Berwickshire Drink and Drugs scene? No it is a rather unfortunate juxtaposition of an image and the main story. The Duke was in Duns to present the Operatic Society `with the Queen's award for Voluntary Service and was not under the influence of banned substances at the time; of course if he was it would lend a new dimension to local High Society about which the paper is obviously concerned.

I could be wrong but I doubt if there is much of a drugs problem in Hutton. Drink would have to be imbibed in the discomfort of one's home as the Cross in Paxton is over two miles away and the no shops in the village include no Off Licence. You can't even buy a tube of glue for goodness sake. Rural crime around here seems to consist of the odd theft of gardening tools, once some fishing rods, and the nicking of the 'You are being Watched' sign beyond Hutton Castle Barns.Nothing to bother the Sheriff of Duns or the star reporter of the Berwickshire.

A very good reason for living here. But if you crave a bit of excitement: Duns is more likely to be your place. Me, I am no hurry to move.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Not All Rubbish, Apparently

The Environmental Hygienists aka the Bin Men are becoming more picky with regard to what they remove from the 'kerbside' on their weekly swoop on rural communities. Although you can recycle (at last) most non food things including the ubiquitous plastic bag (as long as it is not a black bin bag) the pre removal inspection has seemingly become more searching. Last week, at the bottom of Kirk Lane which services 5 houses and the village hall several bags were not removed and tossed contemptuously aside-fair enough within the letter of the law they were black bin bags and should have been inside the appropriate wheelie bin receptacle but you might have thought it would not have been too much trouble to flick them into No1 Lorry with the rest of the non recyclables. Much much worse was at Duns last Wednesday, Huttonians purple for paper and cardboard plastic sack, although clearly containing just those useful commodities was left lonely, isolated, unloved on the road side (we have no kerb) whilst every one elses offerings were carted away. What kind of message is this for newcomers and neighbours? Whoa! Nuclear Waste in brown envelopes? Not touching that.

So I had to drive it all the way back to Kirk Lane and can confidentally expect its removal at approximately 1002 hours today. And next Wednesday , outside the small-house-in-Duns I will hover, just below the horizon, guns run out, battle flag hoisted,Kismet Hardied, just to make sure that the boys in the van do their act of public service, thoroughly and without discrimination.

And save the planet.

(The image is of unbagged rubbish in an unspecified place-not thought to be Berwickshire and certainly not Kirk Lane even after a wild night at the Village Hall)

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Thursday, March 06, 2008
  Guess Where

Guess Where
Originally uploaded by Petticowick
Thank you Petticowick for sending me the link to this photograph of the mysterious Fishwick Kirk. I say mysterious as Huttonian and the wife have failed twice to reach it. It is hidden in thick vegatation and once we seemed to be in sight we were frustrated by an equally frustrated bull on the wrong side of the fence as far as his carnal instincts were concerned-but it was his field rather than the coos which barred our passage. Now that the grass is shorter, the nettles hibernating and the Bull elsewhere we will have another go. Apparently it is in urgent need of tlc-not used for worship for many years. Nicely restored it could be yet another tourist attraction for Scotland's Favourite Short Break destination as long as would be visitors are not snarled up in Fishwick's notorious grid lock traffic,.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Brits wi hae

The whinge factor-we wuz robbed-is deeply embedded in the Scottish sporting psyche and the crack about a well balanced Scot having a chip on both his shoulders is often well merited. National disappointment at failure at the highest level, especially in football-soccer that is-that Celtic's expected (and thoroughly deserved)defeat by Barcelona last night is written up in the Scotsman as if it was a magnificent win: Celtic in quarter final defeat 'glory' sort of thing and one reason for holding heads up high is that the Barcelona side was stuffed full of foreign players (Spaniards mostly) whilst Celtic had only six team members with furrin names. (Mind you I could not find a single English player in the Arsenal side)

And when Scotland has a real genuine sporting star how they flaunt him-him in this case being Andy Murray. Lots of column metres this morning savagely attacking Roger Federer's less than glowing comments about Murray's tennis skills after losing to him in a tournament in Dubai. 'Federer throws his toys out of the pram' was the kindest comment in 4 pages of Scottish Sporting Glory spread about the Murray victory and the (very few) words that the World No 1 (note to Scot Eds: that's Federer not Murray)had to say about AM's lack of real progress since Federer last played him (and lost) a few months ago.

The tabloids south of the Border also have much to say about Mr Murray. 'British Number One in latest triumph' He will be British to the Sun's readers-as British as Henman as long as he wins. But come the inevitable :

It will be:

'Disappointing Scot loses again'

Poor lad can't win unless he does.
If you see what I mean

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Wrong Seats of Learning?

The seminar/lecture season is back in full swing at the uni in Embra and Huttonian enjoyed a good days academia yesterday in Ould Reekie. My lectured- at- students are still very new to me and I had one of those horrid frissons as I walked into the lecture hall -lots of faces but none I instantly recognised. In a moment of panic I thought I had gone into the wrong room but it must have been ok as there were no protests when I started on a pontification about Jordan. I remember a colleague who had been pleased to see that his class seemed fuller than usual (not at Embra but at another ancient seat of learning). 'Ah' he thought 'my reputation is pulling them in' and started into his discourse on the lesser known aspects of Moldavian jellyfish and their influences on Proustian Discourse* Peripherally he observed a surprising number of oriental faces he had not noticed at previous lectures but was delighted to observe their rapt attention and assiduous note taking. At the end the Far Easterners rose as one person in response to a whistle and left in a body-following the party out into the quadrangle he saw them herded onto a bus and whisked off. 'Tojo Academic Tours' was emblazoned on the side of the bus. He later learned that his lecture had been selected at random by the tour organisers as part of their ' The Oxbridge Experience-Via Screaming Tyres to Dreaming Spires' Good packaging, that.

In these parts the bulk of Japanese tourists head for Alnwick Castle for the Harry Potter Experience and I doubt if Modern Middle East History in the Appleton Tower, George Square, Embra, is on many itineraries.

Three years ago I unwittingly woke a student when discussing the finer points of the Iraq/Iran War (1979-1987) He jumped up and rushed out of the room muttering' Sorry, Wrong Lecture' This was 4.45 pm and the lecture started at 4. I am really sorry to have spoiled his afternoon.

* Thought to be tenous. Blog-ed

(the image is of the Harry Potter connection to Alnwick Castle. Difficult to compete with that)

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Monday, March 03, 2008
  New Olympic Event

Katy fairy
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
An exclusive image from the Tots Olympics Training Camp some where in N13. Trampolining for Small Fantasy People (under 4) is to be a new event in Beijing at the Childrens Games to coincide with the senior games. Here the Anglo/ French/Australian hopeful is practising the Overdressage with Wand. This discipline was known as Trampoline-Small Fairies but after a protest from the Thought Police (Homophobic Correction Centre) 'Young Fantasy People' was deemed to be more correct.
Sunday, March 02, 2008

Congratulations to the Coldstream Pipe band for doing what VisitScotland should be doing -attracting our French cousins to the Borders. See opening of a story in this weeks Berwick Advertiser:

THE entente cordial is alive and well between Scotland and France and bride Christele Roy and groom Philippe Derrien were the first French couple to marry in the newly refurbished Coldstream Marriage Room.

When Coldstream Pipe Band visited Mont Brisson last October Philippe, a member of the audience at one of the band's performances, got chatting to bass drummer Alex Thomson and explained that he and Christele were planning a visit to Gretna Green to marry. Alex explained about Coldstream Marriage Room and put the couple in touch with his wife Joy of Coldstream Weddings Personified.

The sad fact is that everyone has heard of Gretna Green, once the target for young eloping couples from south of the Border and narry a soul of a similar facility in Coldstream, until now that is. And it is cheering to see the Gallic groom in a kilt:
The Waterloo Hunting Tartan?

Mind you there is a lot to do before more French couples will be flocking over to tie the knot over here: 'Coldstream in the Spring' or 'Scotland's First Border Toon for lovers' don't quite trip off the tongue

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Saturday, March 01, 2008


I see fellow blogger Havering On (see link) has hit the pages of the Berwickshire with some well merited criticism of VisitScotland and its totally inadequate efforts to get visitors to the Borders. I am not altogether with him when he suggests more imaginative exploitation of the Reiver Connection-best, in my view, to confine those rogues to the Dustbin of History, with the lid firmly on.

Northumberland Tourist Highheidyins also have a case to answer. I noticed that the rather garish sign indicating the otherwise hidden charms of Conundrum Farm has been taken down. According to the shop manager there, this is on the instructions of the tourist board and the local council. The latter have insisted on planning permission for the board despite it being in place for over 7 years and the former are urging the farm to obey this instruction. In the meanwhile the sign has to come down and a whole new generation of thirsty, farm loving tourists have hurtled past unaware of the delicious coffee cake, latte and sweet butting goats. And worse is to come. The Northumberland Tourist Board is threatening to take down their own official brown and white Tourist Attraction road sign on the grounds that the farm does not have more than 100,000 visitors a year. How it can get any visitors at all without some thing to mark the existence of this attraction is not explained.

Nor is Conundrum alone in its threatened isolation. Apparently many shops and cafes in Berwick itself are being required to get retrospective planning permission for their signs and notices. And not a cheap of protest from those tasked with attracting visitors to this last outpost of England( as it remains for the moment despite neglect and bureaucratic oppression)

I suggested to Madame Manager that she went with the Berwick flow and moved the farm into Scotland-its a matter of a few metres. No, she wished to remain in England. And she is right. An inch across the wild frontier and she will be at the mercy of VisitScotland-or as it is being rebranded:


(the image is of the younger grandaughter testing the outreach of an inquisitive goat.Taken on the 'farm trail' at Conundrum)

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Hang Out (one less) Flags

Wind howling outside, can't sleep, 2am, metcheck and BBC Blether Centre agree on 'possible disruption' so nothing for it but a cup of organic Rooibus and a look at Berwickshire Freecycle. Amidst 'Computer wanted Berwick area' and 'offered concrete slabs Duns' there is one intriguing entry 'Wanted German Flag. (Modern)'
But why? Bayern Munich to play Hawick at Rugby Sevens? Expat German in need of security blanket? School Play 'Escape from Stalag XIV' No-modern German Flag please. Swastika owners need not apply. Too sleepy to boggle further. Perhaps more light will be thrown later:' Received German Flag. Now have full pole. Thankyou Flagless of Foulden' Or something.

Continue scanning the offerings: ' Large Saltire. Never used. Owner leaving Berwick'

Nice thought, that

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Happenings in A small Scottish Community


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