Musings from the Merse
Saturday, May 31, 2008

For pirates to be able to walk the plank into crocodile infested waters, you need a plank. We found two flimsy ones which had to be strongly taped together. So an expedition to the partly open Etang La Ville, recovering from a dejeuner break 12 a 3.

Nous cherchons ruban pour emballer quelque chose-I explained to Monsieur Maison de Presse-ruban tres fort. He produced some brown paper-Non-pas de papier brun-Ruban-pour un paquet peut etre. Puzzlement. I enduged in pantomime tres drole.

Le centime tombe: Ah, he said, backing into his inner sanctum and came out with a roll of heavy duty parcel tape: Comme Ca?

Comme Ca sur les stilts.

Le Scotch he said

Of course! Silly of me

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Thank Goodness Huttonian is only the Grand Pere and not held responsible for the organisation of a birthday party for a four year old girl and 19 of her friends. The theme is Peter Pan and not as JM Barrie knew him-the Disney version is heavily into Pirates with Captain Hook taking centre stage although the girls (in a majority at the party) can concentrate on the more gentle elements such as Tinker Belle Tiger Lily and sundry spiritual beings. Peter Pan himself comes across as a bit of a wimp-living with a tribe of Lost Boys, taking Never Growing Up to dangerous extremes. There is a suggestion that Huttonian should have a stagger on part as Captain Hook-there is an 'adult' costume lurking around, chez one of the other parents but with a bit of luck it will be permanently mislaid.

I spent most of yesterday painting cardboard swords, scimitars and daggers-today the paddling pool is being turned into a crocodile infested sea and we will be finding a wooden plank -walking it blindfold across the pool, will be an alternative to the naughty step for any pirate who gets out of hand.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Massive Swing Shock

As seen from the perspective of the Isle de France it does not seem to matter very much but it is quite intriguing to see the steady growth of support for moving Berwick upon Tweed 'back into Berwickshire in the running poll conducted by the newspaper. Up to last week the majority was for the status quo but by never more than 2 %. Here are this weeks findings:

Today's Vote
Would you be happy to welcome Berwick into Berwickshire 49% Yes. it's a great idea 48% No, Berwick is part of England and should remain so. 3% I have no opinion either way.

Hutton Think Tank Research and Analysis Section believe that a maximum of three people vote each week-Mr Ritchie, the self styled Regent of the Kingdom of Scotland is a constant yes, Huttonian a steady no and the other concerned citizen has changed his mind

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

L.'Etang la Ville Silence
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Try putting that on the approach to the Orchard, Paxton. Or even in the Fishwick Golden Triangle.

Anyhow after a due period of respectful silence, I tried to pick up the overseas version of the Guardian from La Maison de Presse. 'Trop bientot' No English papers before the late afternoon, partly because the newsagents is closed for his light lunch from 12-4. ' Comment tres troisieme monde' I suggested.

He seemed not to understand

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This is Eurostar en route to Paris. The lady from Wimbledon is vainly asking for a pot of real tea and has settled for that other Home Counties standby, the Gin and Tonic. The train is tres en retard as 'the train in front has a problem' apparently. But after a bit of bumping and boring we barge past and are, in the end, only un peu en retard=slightly late running as National Express would insist for anything under 90 minutes late. Then there is the queue at Le Guichet to surmount-5 Japanese travelling together going to 5 different destinations and have neither French nor English between them-the Guichet Clerk is not put out-proceeds in her sweet slow way, rattling on in fluent French (naturellement) and sends them all off to Versailles which closed two hours ago. Mal chance! Then the Hell of Chatalet Les Halles-Line A has temporally been mislaid and finally, very finally, the haven of St Germain en Laye. Le Nouveaux Huttonian est arrive

One tip for National Express-model your 'customer announcements' on Eurostar, Short and to the point. And make them bilingual. When in France Eurostar uses French first, then heavily accented English. How about Scotch and English? For full Eurostar effect the Scotch announcements should be made by a Cockney

with a very bad cold


Tuesday, May 27, 2008
  Newsagents French style-encore once more

Newsagents French style
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
So it is off for a bit of grand parenting to Isle de France profonde-National Express and Eurostar always permitting. And once again reliant on L'Etang La Ville's maison de press for le Guardien et L'Observeur-and beware being fobbed off with Le Mail Quotidien, always the last of the journaux anglais to leave the shelves. There are lots of English settlers* around and you have to get there smartish to avoid being stuck with les tabloids. Last time I was there Monsieur MdP recognised me after several months absence-it was surely the quality of my French which had made an indelible impression on his memory.

* The locals have renamed their station St Nom de la Breteche-to St Nom de la British. What a place to have been during the Rugby World Cup.
Monday, May 26, 2008

Death by a Thousand Cuts

It is usually quite easy to get on the course at Duns (MPBUI).As long as you can -avoid the Cardiac Three, the lone lady from Gavinton-but she is on the course at 7am so not a problem, the Golfing Societies:those mostly English hackers enjoying the ‘Freedom of the Fairways'-half price Borders golf-ladies day, club competitions, youngsters just out of school, and casual and unexpected visitors, you should be alright. Today as we teed off, as registered, at 2.32 (230 pm was not available as the club offers 8 minute slots irrespective of who else has booked, when, and even if there is no one due in the next two hours)) we seemed to have a clear course in front of us. Bliss.

But suddenly with the abruptness of low flying aircraft the fairways were loud with the sound of motor mowers. Not your bog standard sit -on -and- green- stripe- your- chemically- enhanced- swards but massive, menacing bristling with chattering teeth, roaring, oil vapour farting monsters. Intent in cutting everything in the vicinity and Golfers were a nuisance to be ignored if not mashed underwheel. Playing one shot I had a machine emerging from behind me, heading in my direction at 40 mph – a second in front of me in line of my shot, heading towards me at 39MPH and a third cutting a neat path diagonally across my bows-45MPH with the strong following wind. Apparently 230-4 pm on a Monday is a quiet period with the morning players snoozing in the club house, the cardiac three in intensive care around the bar and the ladies not due out until 5ish. So the quiet period is rapidly converted into a hideously noisy one. Occasionally, very occasionally, the courtesies would be observed and the laughing cavaliers would , rein back their steeds to allow you to take your shot but exhibiting great impatience, revving their 160 bhp engines, dreaming of the Jim Clarke Rally, which one of them may well have won over the weekend in his souped up
yellow striped,balloon tyred mower.

As suddenly as they had come they disappeared. Tea beckoned. Too late for my partner whose nerve was broken and he walked in, to keep an appointment, leaving the course to silence and to me I was just addressing an important shot when suddenly a roar to my left. No not the return of the Gnarled Old Greenkeeper on his mower, but an uncertified idjit in adjoining garden on his adolescent apparatus mowing an already scalped lawn. His start up coincided with my down swing which jerked out of its usual perfect parabola propelled my Titleist 4 into the rain forest to the right of the fairway. I told him what I thought of him in no uncertain terms-but over the roar of his 4.5 litres he heard not a word

But if he can lip read : Sir be assured

I really mean every word about you and your unmarried parents.

(Image is of mower free 12th hole)

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Borders Bus

I saw a wondrous sight the other day-the Number 32 with two people in it. So perhaps with free bus travel for the crumblies our bus service will get some support. Not from commuters however-first bus from Hutton is in good time to start a 9-5 existence as long as your bus does not mind you being slightly late for the coffee break-but its then out of the office by 3-30 to get home. This elderly poem by a Merse muse is still apt enough

The number 32
from Golden Square to Timbuktu.
Via Paxton House (summer only)
Fishwick crossroads,
Hutton bus shelter
back again.

It’s integrated Borders style;
perfectly timed to leave Berwick station
just before the train arrives
And to return just after the next one

And at one thirty it gets
with all this excitement
stops for the day.
Thus being perfectly suited
the one way commuter.

Satisfaction rating:
100 percent.
No one has ever complained.
Not because Borderers are
stoic folk.
resigned to their lot
But because
the bus is always empty.

No one, it seems
wants to go

(even via Paxton House in the summer)

And I have yet to see anyone get on at Paxton House.

Or get off for that matter.

(I put 'Borders Bus' into Flickr-the result is as above-wrong Border I suspect or else the result of an incident in Duns Civic Week?)

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  Newcastle panorama

Newcastle panorama
Originally uploaded by erase
What an amazing image of tout Newcastle and most of the Mournes sweeping down to the sea. Well done Junior Son in Law and well done photoshop-these must be several images stitched together If Percy French had had a digital camera rather than a b attered piano he would have stuck to the pictures and never mind his sentimental ballads.
Clck on image to enlarge
Saturday, May 24, 2008

Huttonian was on Lay Ecclesiastical duty today at a conference in the splendidly modest Newbattle Abbey outside Dalkeith. The bishop endeared himself to many of the non techies present by refusing to make use of the range of cutting edge electronic presentation enhancing devices. 'Power Corrupts' he reminded us, speaking from hand written notes, propped up on a do it yourself lectern, 'PowerPoint corrupts absolutely' Amen to that from one who invariably shows his first acetate upside down.

Heads filled with spiritual musings I was struck by the name of a Chinese Takeaway in mid Dalkeith:


Food for thought certainly

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Friday, May 23, 2008

According to the National Express website we are approaching Peterborough but we passed through York half an hour ago going north so our upload speed of 1 mbs may have something to do with it. Better than in the East India and Sports Club last night when it was so slow that we could not open the club logo page with its warning that gentlemen are obliged to wear jackets and ties at all times even when attempting to log on in the privacy, if not comfort of your own room. But God Bless it it is the only institution left in London which serves prunes at breakfast giving you that proverbial run for your money so turning up to eat in jacket and tie is worthwhile sacrifice; ladies-tailored slacks please, no jeans.

Nat Express 'service' to Ber Wick( inter alios) is full. The Flying Scotsman is stuffed. Sitting room only on floor of the First Class vestibules and the Dining Car has been left behind for technical reasons No one seems to mind; it is a Bank Holiday week end afterall and if you turn up at your destination exhausted asfter standing for four hours -not to worry.

Its what holidays are for, after all.


Thursday, May 22, 2008


There is a stage in life when funerals are more frequent occasions than Weddings and Baptisms. And occasionally, as to day, a better class of funeral-a memorial service. And one in St Paul's. albeit the Crypt, is as better class as you can get. Last time we went there was for King Hussein of Jordan but that took up the whole building plus people on the steps. Today, it will be more modest even if the late departed was a great and distinguished member of the Camel Corps-aka an Arabist ambassador from HM Diplomatic Service.

Funeral or Memorial Service it will be the same little charades played out; 'OH Huttonian, such a long time! It must have been Tunis where we last met. You haven't changed a bit' Oh Dear Don't know him from Adam and he looks as if he is due an early memorial service himself And I have never been in Tunis. ' Ah Richard. What are you doing these days?' Another stranger-'Actually I am Huttonian' 'Not Richard?! I could have sworn?' Exit muttering something to the effect how sad it is that so many old friends are so gaga that they have forgotten their own names.

But no doubt I will eventually, meet someone whom I do know.

And who really does know me

(And not one who says' Gosh I thought you were dead!)

'Now where was it-Kuwait? New York?

Dar es Salaam? Dubai - Oh of course Amman'

'Of course'

Let's get out of here.


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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Palmers Green N13 has many stirling qualities but pretty is not a description I would use too frequently. But on a glorious late Spring day, with the recyling bags glistening in the warm sunshine, it has its moments of near prettiness.And astonishingly so uplifted were the locals that I was greeted with an uninhibited , beaming,'Good Morning' by two elderly gents and a rather aggressive 'How are you?' from another. In many years of regular visits I have never come across such spontaneous amiability. It must be the weather-even Mr Fish would manage a grimace if not quite a smile

I am asked what has Palmers Green and Duns in common? Romanian Big Issue sellers perhaps. The one outside Sir Morrison's in PG was doing as badly as her counterpart milking the customers to the Coop in Duns. The eldest grandaughter insisted that I buy a copy saying that mummy would like to have one Of course I did and returning home found that Mummy already had one-bought earlier that day. No doubt Zoe had told her mother to get one for 'Granny and Grandad'

That child is going to make an outstanding social worker one day.

Or failing that

A car dealer


Tuesday, May 20, 2008
  On the train

On the train
Originally uploaded by wabbit42
Thankyou Wabbit for this image-as you point out WiFi is free on National Express on both classes, one improvement on GNER -the only one perhaps- It is good when your computer tells you the precise location of the train-me, I prefer looking out of the window and when the Station Hoarding says 'York' I draw my own conclusions.
And indeed the current location 'on line' indicator needs to be taken with a bit of the proverbial condiment. If the download speed is low-which it is-your laptop may be a bit behind the game. It is irritating to be informed that you are approaching Peterborough when you are crossing the Tyne.

Or Vice Versa.
Monday, May 19, 2008

After a rather long absence from the development game the Laird is back-see http://eplanning1.scotborders.gov.uk/WAM/showCaseFile.do?appType=planning&appNumber=08/00776/FUL

And despite his frustration over the rejected Knowe's Close and other sites in down town Paxton and his inability to include potential housing estates in the Local Plan,
his Lairdship has now an application in for two pretty little bijou three bedroom establishments just to the west of Smiddy's Cottage on the upper Paxton Hutton road outwith the village boundary. The application talks about building on 'scrub land'

Well one man's scrub land is seemingly another's copse of fir trees-not yet mature and presumably a small scale Lairdian commercial venture now for the chop (npi) and concrete. More over according to the letters of objection from two of the neighbours there is a bit of a history to this site-application to build rejected before and an attempt to include it in the local plan also failed. It seems to be bristling not only with fir trees but also with planning difficulties.

When two or three are gathered in the Cross these days Potential Departures from Berwickshire Local Plan, Policy 7 tend to dominate the conversation.

Time gentlemen please and 50p in the Swear Box.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Looking North
Originally uploaded by erase
Thankyou youngest and junior Welsh son-in-law for this amazing picture of most of the Mourne Mountains-looking north from one of the tors of Slieve Binnion. Corbetts these mountains may be-as opposed to Monros* (over 3000 feet) but if you climb them up from sea level they are challenging enough. And if you don't take them seriously in nasty weather you could be in a lot of trouble.The s-i-l walked from here to come down to Newcastle via the Donard Commedagh ridge-Donard you can see with its rounded top right rear of the image. Click for full panoramic effect

Monros are named after Sir H Monro but there is no evidence that the smaller Corbetts (2500ft plus) are anny thing to do with Ronnie Corbett-Blog-ed)

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Saturday, May 17, 2008


A distinguished Eyemouth man has written to the Berwickshire as follows:

Duns was described in a recent tourist handbook for Scotland as a “sleepy rural town hardly worth visiting and hence rarely visited”!
Yet Duns is full of history!
Duns Park is probably where the Scottish army assembled in 1318 before assaulting Berwick at the time held by the English.
Duns Castle was granted by Robert the Bruce to his nephew the Earl of Moray and rebuilt in 1320. The town was created a Burgh of Barony by James 1V in 1490 and Duns Law was the camp of the Covenanting Armies in 1640.
No history! Not worth visiting?
This letter is the result of “Thought for the Week” which reminded us that Duns is the birthplace of one of the great scholars of history.
Why should Duns not create a new history and become a great intellectual centre perhaps eventually a university town like towns even smaller? Duns to become a town known for its reputation for philosophy as its son Duns Scotus was but this time embracing many ways of thought – a centre not only for Christian spirituality and its mystical traditions but for all the religious movements past and present Zen Buddhism, the Upanishads, Guru Nanak, Sufism, the Kabbalah, Taoism, Bahai and many more.
Most things begin in small ways, often very small ways but always with a vision.
I would beg the people of Duns to create such a vision! Create history - a future - a new history, and one suitable to our times when very many young people are looking to things spiritual. Man does not live by bread alone. The young dream dreams but so should their elders.

The University of Duns-The Scotus Ecumenical and Way Out Faiths Centre, 'Dingers Outthink A, the new town motto-how the tourists would flock in!

There's a thought! Better than just dwelling on the wretched Reivers?

And no mention of Jim Clarke.

(The image is apparently of Duns Scotus in deep cover waiting for the Reivers to go past on their way to Ye Olde Dunse Civic Weeke)

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Friday, May 16, 2008
A Fairly Small Issue

Huttonian is only just getting used to seeing Big Issue sellers in Berwick so one outside the Coop in Duns was a surprise. Business was not brisk and until I offered my £1.50 having watched a lot of folk stream past him, eyes averted, handbags on the other side-bankrupted by Christian Aid week, possibly.

He seemed to be a Romanian; gipsy background, possibly-almost Turkish in mien. How sad to leave his tribe and homeland, come to Scotland in search of fortune and be reduced to selling the Big Issue outside a small Co-op. Perhaps he was sun lighting from the Farne Fisheries night shift?

I doubt if he will sell many in Duns.

But I could be wrong.

Incidentally if any of you are hesitating about purchasing a BI in case it is full of English/Southron irrelevant stuff, be advised that the Duns version is the Scottish
Edition-complete with the heraldic red lion and chances to win free copies of the Lonely Planet Guide to Scotland. And under the title Why Holidays at Home are Hot to Scot an article recounts that a week in July in the Costa Del Sol will set you back
£1,775 but one in Oban a piffling £810. Travelling to Spain is at least £ 898 by Easy jet (family of 4-plus £122 for a hired car but Oban is £12 -petrol for the car

In both cases you start from Glasgow. If you started from Duns paying the pump prices
currently at offer in our two garages-£12 might get you to Gavinton.

With a following wind.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Coldstream Burns Club held their seventh annual ceremony on Sunday at the Tweed Bridge to commemorate Rabbie Burns' visit to the town on May 7, 1787 when he crossed the bridge to stand on English soil for the first time in his life. starts an article in this week's Berwickshire. As part of the celebrations the Chairman knelt on the bridge and recited a stanza from 'The Cotters Saturday Night' as Burns himself had done 221 years ago. Perhaps this one (It is a very long poem) :

From scenes like these, old Scotia's grandeur springs,
That makes her lov'd at home, rever'd abroad:
Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
"An honest man's the noblest work of God;"
And certes, in fair virtue's heavenly road,
The cottage leaves the palace far behind;
What is a lordling's pomp? a cumbrous load,
Disguising oft the wretch of human kind,
Studied in arts of hell, in wickedness refin'd!

Its a mystery according to a Dinger acquaintance why the Rabbie paid only one visit to Coldstream-and then merely as a transit point to England. It could be that he took a bit of a scunner to the place and there is some evidence for this in a stanza, apparently from the same poem which has recently come to light having been 'lost' for years It goes as follows:

And as for this wee scruffie Border toon
Whose Bonnie Brig has oe’r it history writ
The burghers wish that returning soon
This Bard can further glorie it
Ah! Wait for bluest of Blue Moon
Afore my steps again will hasten here
With watered ale, no change from honest Poun
A firm response: Return? No bluidy fear!

There is no evidence that it was the present Besom Inn which so got up the Bard's nose, so to speak.

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This is a PS to yesterday's post and is taken from an ITN report

Police chiefs were "sickened and disappointed" after Rangers fans ran amock through Manchester.

More than 100,000 supporters had travelled from Glasgow for their team's Uefa Cup final against Zenit St Petersburg.

Many had been drinking all day and violence erupted at around 7.30pm when a big screen which should have show the match failed.

Greater Manchester Police said a total of 42 people had been arrested during the night including three for ticket touting.

Calm was restored after five hours of running battles between fans and riot police but the city centre streets are still strewn with rubbish, cans of beer and broken glass.

Rangers lost the final 2-0 after a lacklustre display at the City of Manchester Stadium but the event was marred by the violence away from the ground.

Assistant Chief Constable Justine Curran of Greater Manchester Police said: "A minority of thugs have overshadowed what should have been a great occasion.

've watched them commit damage, assault my officers and I'm really sickened and disappointed."

Beer was on tap from off-licences with supporters carrying crates of cheap lager around - Tesco opened at 7am, 18 hours before kick-off.

Excitement and alcohol levels mounted all day with some fans spending hundreds of pounds on travel and hotels just to watch the game in the fan zones.

Throughout the day the atmosphere had been friendly - but when a "technical hitch" hit the screen in Piccadilly Gardens, many fans, already heavily drunk, turned nasty.

The broken big screen was pelted with bottles, as were riot police as they moved in to try to quell the trouble.

Police and council officials blamed a "minority" of fans for the violence.

Rangers fans blamed the local council's "shambolic" organisation, but another said the behaviour of his fellow supporters left him "ashamed to be a Scotsman".

Mind you if I had travelled all the way to Manchester, with no ticket for the match and relying on an officially provided big screen which subsequently went on the blink I would have been high on the Richter Scale of Pissedoffedery. Any 'sickness' and 'disappointment' might better have been reserved for the screen operators rather than a mild over reaction by travelling fans.

An apology is surely called for?

The only happy man will be the non-fan spotted (in deep cover) at Waverley Street watching the Ranger supporters head hopefully southwards-his tee shirt said ABR.

ABR ? Then I remembered the Souvenir of Scotland shirts I had seen in Embra at the time of the Rugby World Cup 'Anybody But England'

Dead On as they say in Norn Iron.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Far from Lone Rangers

What a sight for normal eyes at Waverley Street, Embra-Hordes (and I use that term advisedly) of Rangers' supporters, draped in flags, singing the odd ethnic ie-sectarian ditty whilst slurping lager from large tins. They were being dragooned like wild animals. Fierce notices-Don't even think about going to Manchester (where the UEFA) final is being played) without having seat reservation- Cross Country Trains-no alcohol to be brought on to the train. Queue here-you will be herded onto the train in small manageable parties-Abu Ghuraib must have been a bit like this except for Orange Jump Suits read miscellaneous Kilts; although come to think of it ,orange jump suits would be most appropriate for the traditional Rangers fan.

I was contemplating the sign outside the Loos turnstiles which read ' Be aware the toilet is now 30 p instead of 20p' when a kilted RF thrust past me ' 30p Jimmie, bluidy robbery-I hae only 20 p left in my ****ing Sporran-and I hae reely gotta go-like the ****ing noo' He made as to lift the back of his Kilt into PTS* position, Nos 2.

THe turnstile attendant took the 20 p

And let him in.

It may have been the kilt but he disappeared into the Ladies where the Queue (INconvenience regretted) sign was illuminated.

I doubt if he queued.

(* Prepare to ****)

and let him in.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Free (re) cycling Norn Iron style

A Yahoo chat room included this suggestion from a Norn Iron eco warrior:

How about this for a novel recycling idea?
Make bottles from re-usable glass instead of plastic. Make a proportion of the purchase price a deposit for the glass bottle, say 20 pence. When you return the bottle to the retailer, you get 20 pence cash back, or 20 pence of the next bottle. Or you could save 5 bottles and let your child return them, and let them keep the £1.

Could this idea catch on?

and he adds

Additional Details

I know it is not a new idea - that is my British sarcasm. I used to return my mother's bottles for 5p per bottle and spend the money!

The response voted as the most appropriate (2 votes) was as follows

it is good from the side of recycling and makes an easily closed loop system.
However the increased transporting weight of the glass over plastic probably outweighs the advantages of recycling in this case. There needs to be greater industrial need for reuse of plastic and then we will have a better system.
Besides wasn't this the old system used by early lemonade companies and old British* colonies? :-P

A local bloggee has commented:

Introduce this in Scotland and you will have a run on the bottle banks-Prudent Borderers scrambling to get their bottle back

* British Colony? Norn Iron?

(the image is inside a bottle bank-Norn Iron Rock-no orange bottles in view so this branch is presumably exclusively used by the nationalist community)


Monday, May 12, 2008

Berwickshire Freecycle. Come and Get It! R-e-s-p-e-ct-f-u-l-l-y

I don't know how we could have ever managed our move out of the Old Manse to the Small House in Duns without the marvellous Free cycle network. Broken Motor Mower, rotting carpet liner, children's toys, past their normal playtime date, model cars mostly wheel less, excess unattractive carpet,ancient leather pouffe, Computer tower, odd glasses-some very odd, miscellaneous picnic stuff with extra Wadi Rum sand. Once advertised on Freecycle they are usually taken away by some kind person within twenty four hours.

The rules are straight forward . To quote from the world wide freecycle blurb (obviously geared to the Transatlantic market Created in Arizona in 2003, apparently):

KEEP IT FREE, LEGAL & APPROPRIATE FOR ALL AGES. This means, for example, no Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms or Drugs, legal or otherwise. Two strikes and you're outta the group.
This is our main Freecycle rule to live by and it's a pretty easy one at that. No
advertising your yard sale, though, as you're looking for money and that isn't free...

SUBJECT LINE OF YOUR POSTS. Use these phrases to make it easy for others to delete
or view:

OFFER: loveseat, downtown. [Offering more than 1 thing? Still keep it in 1 e-mail,
TAKEN: loveseat
WANTED: loveseat, any condition. [Please use this sparingly and don't offer money.]

2d above all else, don't ask for an extravagant item like a TOTR laptop, new car,
brand new computer etc, which we'd all like to have or the strike rule will kick in
- see #1 above. ]


PROSELYTIZING/RELIGION. It's all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Two strikes & you're out, i.e.
you will be unsubscribed by the moderator after two inappropriate postings.

So far Huttonian has survived strike free. But it is not always gratitude that you will get for your open handed generosity. The lady who snapped up the non working lawn mower was indignant that the grass box was missing.The pouffe was criticised as being too big-but they took it none the less.

Despite the two strike warning about pushing your luck we do have one or two chancers around-they usually begin their post : I know its a long shot....but anyone with a spare motor caravan they are not using....offering Stradivarius violin-almost new. I jest, slightly And as I write the latest wanted posts include a 1250 cc motor bike and a horse box -http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BerwickshireFreecycle/ . Lots of optimists out there

No love seats that I have seen but some people seem to have an endless supply of massage benches.

(I am not sure if Fickr devotees really know what a love seat looks like-this image is said to be of one but perhaps more suitable for a couple who have just had a flaming row)

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Sunday, May 11, 2008


Town Mouse has posted about the difficulty of getting a newspaper in the wilds of Dumfries and Galloway. Either bike or drive. Cycling to get one was never much of an option for the Huttonian ensemble. The nearest newsagent involves a crossing of the notorious Bluestane Ford-impassable after rain or when the Whiteadder Reservoir has one of its regular water lettings, said to be Wednesdays but could happen, without notice, just at the time one was wobbling across with the Grudiuan in the wife's swallow crap streaked basket. A rumble, a whoosh and you are on Spittal Beach with all the other flotsams and jetsams and soggy (and worse, unread) journals.

For our first few years we enjoyed the services of Dave the Paper. Sometimes arriving in his ancient land rover ,used when the other car was off the road having come off worse with an encounter with a (the?) local deer. Rain, shine, snow, ice-Bambis permitting, he would be there. He gave up as there was little money in it and after a court case when he was sued by an indigent customer who thought she had been intimidated by Dave when she had failed to pay his bill. He could look a bit intimidating with his barrel chest and jutting beard but was, in truth, a gentle giant and may, admittedly have been a bit cheesed off as the account remained unsettled for several months. I like to think that my character evidence secured his discharge. But he gave up his huge 6 hour Merse round in disgust

Now we take it in turns to get the papers (by car, I fear) with a neighbour. He insists on the English Edition of the Daily Mail which is not widely available outside Berwick-try asking for it in Greenlaw-dirty looks and no paper. But both newsagents in Duns have it (one more then than now) and the tiny shop in Chirnside which also takes the Guardian and the Observer. But the process is not always hazard free. Last Thursday one of the newsagents in Duns handed the Mail back to me saying, disapprovingly 'This is the English version' I agreed and said that I actually wanted it and handed it back for the scan commenting that she seemed to stock quite a few. 'No accounting for taste' She then said 'But you have two Berwickshire's. I agreed, again, explaining I got one for the same neighbour who reads the English edition of the Daily Mail. Her eyebrows disappeared into her hairline as if to say ' English Daily Mail, Scottish Berwickshire' There really is no accounting for taste'

But she should know that in Kirk Lane:

we are a broadminded lot.

One image is from the Scottish Daily Mail-same bugs as in England but possibly more of them-especially Midges.

And the other is of the Irish Daily Mail-won't get that in Greenlaw. But Town Mouse will find it in Dumfries-the high road to Stranraer-if desperate enough.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fishwick Kirk Part Two

A bloggee has sent Huttonian some documentation on the old church and a list of the tombstones which were still identifiable in 1970. One is included here and the actual lists can be sent on request to anyone engaged in a bit of ancestor research.You need to click on the image to read the document clearly and someone may recognise a name or two . We will now try and find some organisation involved in historic buildings which might consider involvement in some basic conservation. The main structure is sound enough. But I suspect that such an obscure little chapel is unlikely to attract much interest with so many 'important' buildings needing a bit of tlc-Greenlaw Town Hall being a case in point.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Fishwick Kirk I Presume?

Indeed yes. At last. After several failed attempts-unfriendly natives and marauding beasts, Huttonian and the wife, led by valiant Sherpa, penetrated the bandit country of the riverine Tweed lower valley to reach the ruins of Fishwick Kirk, where human feet have rarely tread in recent years. This was only achievable by out flanking guard cows protecting the obvious approach from the West while we snuck in from the East.(See image of the savage beasts-no doubt a bull lurking nearby-on Death-by-Coo Hill)The church is obscured by trees from every angle and is only just visible from the northern side when you are right on top of it. The main structure-a mortuary chapel built in the 1830s on the site of a much older church-legible tombstones date from the 17th century. The earliest on an inventory made in 1970 is 1661. The structure, apart from the roof tiling where the timbers are mostly intact is in surprisingly good nick but Vandals (or possibly Goths) have removed brass, glass and no doubt looted the vaults as well.The door was being used as a ramp (by earlier looters?) and the working party aka Sherpa, put it inside the church-image show it propped up outside the entrance

To paraphrase Dr Johnson's description of his visit to the Giant's Causeway:

Worth Seeing. Worth Going to see

But take food, warm clothing (it was 68f yesterday), machetes, midge repellent, dock leaves-the nettles are gigantic, GPS, small arms, stun grenades, flak jackets, and a cell phone. Help would be slow to reach you. So take care

(Click on the images for fine detail)

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Thursday, May 08, 2008
Annie Get your (gas) Gun

SIR, - An increasing source of rural noise pollution can be found in the gas guns favoured by some farmers as a means of keeping birds and animals away from crops.
There is a voluntary code to restrict the hours during which these devices may be operated, but few local landowners appear to be willing to observe it. I do not wish to be woken involuntarily at 5am every day of the week neither do I wish my day to be punctuated by loud noises distressingly similar to sounds experienced in Bosnia.
The explosions are intermittent and directional which means that it is impossible to become habituated to them. The disruption of sleep alone presents serious health and human rights issues which are too important to entrust to a voluntary code.

writes a correspondent to the Berwickshire

Huttonian has every sympathy. It is very disconcerting to go for a peaceful country walk and suddenly, 'boom!', from a field near you. You jump and the crows munch on contentedly. It's worse when you know the devices are all around you and you are waiting for them to dance to their time switch tune-anticipation of the bang is worse than the actuality. Around Hutton they are not a nuisance at night.

I can't vouch for Bosnia nor outside the Green Zone in Baghdad. But the problem is an old one in this country, hence, presumably :

From Ghoulies and Ghosties and things that go bang in the night.

Good Lord Protect us

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Are we mad? I wonder. The sun is warm, the sky a hazy blue, everything in the garden blooming, the tadpoles in the pond humming with contentment and the Old Manse basking in the glow of a Borders sun. Give this all up for a small, dare I say, poky, house, with a small garden, in a nice but unremarkable town? With a close up view of surrounding buildings rather than a never ending horizon with homo sapiens nowhere to be seen. Only gentle coos, carpe dieming like crazy.

Are we mad?

I refer the Honorable Gentleman to the reply I gave a few posts before.

And I better resume my seat before I change my mind

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

How to Kick an own goal

Apparently Wendy Alexander, the accident prone leaderene of Used Labour in Scotland is going to support the idea of a referendum on independence. If this takes place in or around 2010 with a newly elected honking group of Old Etonians in charge south of the Border this might well drive most of Scotland into the hands of the SNP. Especially as that time Labour up here is likely to be as popular as Labour down there. Has Wendy A thought this one through?

Saltires over Hutton? Could happen.

Need to get a pole first.

And this will have to compete with the proposed Christmas lights for funding

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Monday, May 05, 2008
Fishwick Kirk. Last Chance Saloon

Incredibly summer, leaving out Spring is here. And we have one bit of unfinished business before the season gets too advanced and we leave the Old Manse for the Small House in Duns. Well actually we have quite a lot of unfinished business before extricating ourselves from here. But finding Fishwick Kirk is high on the list. Once the grass is four foot tall, the two metre nettles at the 1.7 metre stage, the fields full of coos and Farmer C's Bull* on the prowl, then it is too late. Stanley may have found Dr Livingstone in an equally unpromising environment but I believe Fishwick Kirk would have eluded him.

*If it was the Bull's cousin known, apparently, as 'Well Hung and Tender' from across the Tweed we might risk it. The trouble is that although you can spot the well hung bits from a safe distance, the tenderness is only apparent, or not, when it is too late.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Any Old Iron? Not in this 'ere bag

The environmental hygienists, aka the bin men (no sexual stereotyping intended) have struck in Kirk Lane, Hutton. Not 'struck' as in a Grangemouth 'industrial action' i.e. industrial inaction but in the sense of suddenly and unexpectedly imposing the rules on Sandy McCitizen with regard to what they will deign to remove and convey to the dump-either hereabouts or on the outskirts of Beijing. One black bin was left unemptied and a printed notice attached drawing attention to rule 234, Stipulation 7, Condition 23 b in that the weeks non recyclable rubbish ration must be confined to a single wheelie bin (closed tightly) and there must not be any extra bags placed in or near the vicinity of the said bin. Oddly they had on this occasion taken the extra bags from the very near vicinity of the offending bin-a small gesture of reconciliation perhaps.

Given that you can recycle almost everything apart from food and what should be called undisposable nappies, it must be quite hard to fill a big bin with genuine rubbish. So someone may not have been trying too hard?

The image is of an Indian rubbish disposal system. An idea for Berwickshire farmers looking for diversification?

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Saturday, May 03, 2008
  Belle of the Ball

Originally uploaded by erase
The senior granddaughter peering into the present at the Crystal Ball of Newcastle (Norn Iron) This feature is the centrepiece of the post modern promenade which has transformed a tacky scruffy seaside tripper destination into the Queen of the Irish Watering Places. Of course the rest of the fecal matter has yet to be completely moved from the said water before the place can get back its Blue Flag status. And that will not happen until something is done about the sewerage treatment centre down at the harbour which at present has the technology merely to caress crap before encouraging the residue to seep into Dundrum Bay. That was 1970s technology for you. If any remaining men of violence could put a bomb under it, putting it beyond use, that would do us all a favour.
Friday, May 02, 2008

Duns Summer Festival

Bloggees have asked about the Duns Summer Festival and here is the bare bones from the Traditions of the Borders Website

The town's most important event is the Duns Summer Festival which started in 1949. This is held in July when the festival principals, the Reiver and Reiver's Lass, lead the Riding of the Bounds to the summit of Duns Law. there The Wynsome Mayde is chosen by the pupils of Duns Primary School and is crowned during the festival. There are also sports, concerts and parades.

As reported previously the principals: The Reiver and the Reiver's Lass have been chosen for 2008. Huttonian has yet to observe these festivities at close hand so will reserve judgement until he has. It just seems rather odd to an incomer to have a festival celebrating perhaps the greatest bunch of rogues to have ever infested these islands -a crew of murderous thieves, sheep stealers, cattle rustlers and outlaws who owed no allegiance except to their temporary paymasters -better disowned than romanticised I would have thought. Maydes in those days, in the aftermath of rape, kidnap and ransom, raddled with dreadful diseases, would hardly have been wynsome and possibly not much of a role model for Primary School children.

Ah How about Robin Hood? A sort of English Reiver perhaps. Well at least he appears to have had a code of honour-robbing the rich to benefit the poor; bringing back the 10p tax band, that sort of thing-an Old Labour figure and a Green one to boot given his environment.
I doubt if the Reivers went in for any such income redistribution unless it was strictly in their favour.

And no I am not displaying anti Scottish prejudice. There were English Reivers as well, just as awful, and both lots had not a jot of patriotic fervour to their name. Scottish Gold was as good as English silver any day and never mind the border.

I doubt if either side would have been welcome in 16th Century Duns.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008
Back to the Borders

It is good to be back in the Borders proper-Dumfries has the air of being in deepest Alba athough barely 30 miles from England-and to find that we are moving along with the usual rites of Spring -selection of the Greenlaw Maid, the Duns Reiver and Reiver's Lass, Wynsome Mayde etc etc-we will have a really good view of these rituals from the Small House in Duns. And we know that the Silly Season is approaching fast when the Berwickshire has room in its letters column for another effusion from the Regent of Scotland :

#SIR, - What was in Ian Smith’s article in both the Berwickshire News and Berwick Advertiser recently, headed respectively ‘Lords dismiss Berwick moving into Scotland’ and ‘Lords minister dismisses Berwick move to Scotland’ calls for this response as a further contribution from here to the ‘Great Berwick Debate’.
Berwick north of the Tweed is, under the still valid 1329 Treaty of Edinburgh/Northampton, legally and constitutionally in the Kingdom of Scotland so has not to be moved into it and so also no referendum of its population is required nor any negotiating over it with the Kingdom of England.

I suppose someone cares?

Meanwhile in the ongoing open online Poll in the paper the People of Berwickshire (Scotland) do not favour having Berwick upon Tweed (England)'back' into Scotland (Scotland) and feel happy that it is in England (England).

Perhaps we could all give this 'issue' a rest and concentrate on important matters-like the Wynsome Mayde and all the other exciting commemmorations of the 15th and 16th centuries.

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