Musings from the Merse
Monday, June 30, 2008
This Bus is bound for Glory?

The number 32 to Golden Square (via Berwick Station) was surprisingly full when Huttonian boarded it at Hutton;first time I had used my bus pass; unusually more got on at Paxton-no one I knew. Three people to pick up at Paxton House-never known that before. I felt a blog coming on-32 Bus Full Shock. Just before the A1 the last seat was taken by a young farmer with a black lamb which sat happily on his knee. Then to my surprise the bus turned south down the A1-normally it goes north to enter the town by Castle Terrace. No worries, there must be road works on its normal route. BUT then it ignored the East Orde turn off and roared down the A1. Past Scremerston, relentlessly rolling through Northumberland.

I was going to miss my train. No one else seemed at all concerned.

'This is the 32' I asked the young farmer. ''That's right' he said.' ' But we don't seem to be going to Berwick?'

'Of course not. Its the St Albans Bus?

'St Albans? Hertfordshire?'

Yes. I am taking the lamb down to be chopped. Always on a Monday.

I hurried up the aisle to ask the driver if he could drop me at Alnwick, or Morpeth or anywhere National Express went to Berwick from.

No driver-or at least the cab was sealed off from the rest of the bus. And a big notice 'The Driver's cab can only be accessed when the vehicle has assumed a stationary position'

I returned down the aisle and asked the passengers generally: 'Which is the first stop?

'St Albans'

said the lamb

And the wife woke me with the morning tea.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Out of the Fox Holes

Occasionally the Episcopalian Church of Scotland (as opposed to the Presbyterian Church of Scotland) is referred to as the 'English' Church-'the Lairds at Prayer. Not quite fair, Christchurch in Duns is certainly a noticeably Scottish establishment but there are occasions when an over abundance of Lairds justifies the epithet. Such as a 'county' baptism. Then tout Berwickshire is there. As to day-the church heaving and 'I vow to thee my country' being heard as far away as distant Roxboroughshire.

Looking around the tweedy, dark suited and blue-blazered front pews I could not help dwelling on the first verse of the opening hymn-Borders version:

All things Bright and Beautiful
All Creatures great and small
Now they have banned Fox hunting
We will have to shoot them all.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008
Poor Laird. He does not seem to have much luck with his development schemes. The latest for two bijou modest villas on the fringes of Paxton Village have been given a (very prompt) thumbsdown by the Planning Gauleiters. Just 'Application Refused' That's it- on the Planning website: This seems to have been in the wake of of a site visit by a planning officer during which it would have been quickly seen that the application was slightly flawed in detail: for 'scrub land' read 'small wood' Lack of attention to detail as one of my former Ambassadors used to say.

The decision level was the Berwickshire Area Committee. Grounds for refusal are not recorded on this site.

But one can hazard a guess that 'out with the local plan-building in the countryside' may have been something to do with it. Never mind the potentially vanishing wee wood.

Where next? One wonders

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Huttonian, as a change from Eyemouth, visited Fife's answer to that Berwickshire gem: Tayport in north Fife-and that feels very north. One thing you can say about the Scottish Borders Planning highheidyins is that, compared to their Fifer colleagues, they know their stuff. Tayport is a case in point. Formerly an attractive wee fishing village it now has a Marina stuffed into its harbour which is surrounded by the most inappropriate development imaginable. On one side MacSeaside, big, pretentious and boring. On the landward side-a row of Neo Marxist East German, 1950s. blockhouses. Their backs turned resolutely to the sea with blank walls sporting one small window each and sharing an unfenced back yard dog loo. Just boring. And no doubt expensive. The only point of interest was the plaque fixed to the end of this Gulag commemorating a visit by a a former US President.Why it was fastened to an unlovely building built 150 years after his visit is not explained

Given this great wasteland of unlovely edifices it was strangely appropriate that one of the boats which had not yet managed to find any room in the Marina was made of

concrete (see image)

If there is any place in Scotland crying out for Donald Crump this is it.

Even he could hardly ruin it any more

(You really need to click on the images to feel the real horror)

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

death on the grouse moors

is a headline in the electronic Berwickshire recording yet another wild life murder in an area, sadly, notorious for such incidents. The story coninues:

Red kite dies days after shooting

SICKENING: Superintendent Mike Flynn of the SSPCA with the dead red kite.

"This is a very bad news day for the Borders"
By Kenny Paterson
ANOTHER crime against wildlife in Berwickshire has occured after the sickening death of a rare bird of prey.
An injured red kite was discovered lying on an upland grouse moor in the county last Monday by a doctor and his children out walking.
The juvenile female was taken to a wildlife vet where x-rays showed she had a shotgun wound on her wing and also her backside.
The red kite, which was in good breeding condition, appeared to be making good progress but three days later she suffered a painful death after a post mortem showed massive internal damage.
It is thought the red kite was downed with a shot to the wing from long distance while flying and its liver was ruptured with another pellet.
The death of a red kite follows the discovery of two badgers killed near Whitsome last month by illegal snares.
And in January, 25 poisoned baits were laid out around Greenlaw killing six buzzards, the highest recorded number designed to kill birds of prey in one location.
Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Superintendent Mike Flynn said: "This is the second iconic bird to be persecuted in the Borders alone following the poisoning of a female golden eagle last August.
"Red kites are very distinctive and would not be mistaken for a crow or the likes. In my 21 years with the SSPCA I have never known the shooting of a red kite and this is a very bad news day for the Borders. The vet at the Berwick Swan Trust was treating the wing and it seemed to be responding but the internal injuries were too great and the kite died. It would have been very distressed and it would have been a slow painful death. It is a pointless and senseless killing."
Anyone convicted of shooting a red kite faces a jail sentence of up to six months or a £2,000 fine under the Wildife and Countryside Act. A specialhotline (0870 2404832) has been set up for anyone with information about the shooting.

I suspect that some game keeper somewhere is

The Lairds need to get a grip

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Huttonian tried out his state of the art Tom Tom (yes jungle drums have reached the Merse). I set a course for the Highlands-Tom Tom in a flash directed us on the speediest route to Killin (turn right at the Old Pub) and then next right across Blue Stane ford.

Afrer 37mm of rain.

No thanks.

The image is of the Jim Clarke Rally. The driver took his Tom Tom's advice?

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008
  Have Brolly. Will travel

Autumn rainbow Killin
Originally uploaded by nz_willowherb
I am grateful to nz_willowherb for this stunning image of autumnal Killin. Huttonian is off for an early summer break to the Highlands and back at the weekend-if we are spared. We are not expecting autumn colours but the rainbow is a possibility. The forecast is for heavy rain all day. So unlike the dry Merse
A Scream is only a click away

Below is the response which Huttonian got to a request made via 'when you are really stuck e-mail for help facility' on the Scottish Power website. It was to do with signing off our two cottages attached to the Old Manse in favour of the new owners, reading the meters-you know that sort of rocket science. The website was unable to help as it refused to accept the meter readings, the help link didn't nor did the FAQs (Ours had not been asked frequently enough apparently) and I gave up after 45 minutes of classical music on the not-quite-freefone to Scottish Power-your call is important to us-but not important enough to actually answer.

Dear Mr ***** (the name of a long gone tenant)

Thank you for your email.

You can telephone 0845 2700 700 and leave your readings on the automated


Further help is always available at http://www.scottishpower.co.uk . For more

information, go to the 'Help' link at the top right hand side of your screen.

Did you know that ScottishPower was recently voted top for Best Online Services

in uSwitch's bi-annual customer satisfaction survey?*

So as well as great prices we offer the best online service too! Why not go to


Your deepest wish will be satisfied

And bring your partner

(* one wonders who was the worst)

And I added the last two lines but it is the thought that counts

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Watch Your Step

We are awaiting with bated breath to see if the Borders Council are going to use their powers, delegated under the anti terrorism legislation to deal with serious crime in the area;as seems to be happening in some English local authorities. In our case it is believed that Fishwick Special Branch will be empowered to be the cutting age of the campaign against the dangerous scoff-laws who besmirch our proud reputation of being a very low crime region. To date there have been no reports of unmarked police cars stalking dog walkers and using high power digital cameras to collect evidence of unscooping the poop, as it were. Nor has anyone yet been held for putting the wrong kind of recycling in the white and purple bags-I have yet to check my wheelie bin for recording devices but with the advanced and miniaturised technology now in use they might be quite hard to spot.

If anyone suddenly is out of circulation for (perhaps soon to be) 42 days we will know that some thing is afoot-or in the case of dog pooh, underfoot.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008


To instill some instant culture we took two Antipodean friends to Flodden Field, the scene of a serious own goal by the Scots in 1513 and soon to be at its 500th anniversary. What fun that will be for every patriotic Englishmen. Flodden has no interpretive centre as such but there are the odd information boards and you can walk the battlefield walk and wonder at the suicidical tactics of the Scots, culminating in the King, James IV dismounting from his horse to join the pikemen on foot and being chopped to pieces by the English swordsmen who made short work of the wooden pikes.. The only real winners were Hume's Borderers who left the battle at half time with their loot thus leaving a hole in the Scottish centre which the English exploited killing about 10,000 Scots and losing 4,000 of their own side. All in a single afternoon

The best view of the battlefield is from the Flodden memorial on Branxton Hill-as in one image above. This is looking south from the English lines towards the Scottish positions on the hill to the south-the killing grounds were in the valleys in between.
The best description of the battle can be found in Branxton Church where the body of James IV lay the night after the battle-and then taken in triumph to London where it was buried in an unmarked grave.

A big blow for the Scots and all because they did the French a favour.

Moral there somewhere

(click on the images for greater detail)

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thankyou very much Hels of 'Country Strife' for this story of ordinary country stoats

A mother and her family of three had a near miss encounter with a lorry at Whitemire stud.

An eye-witness gives the following account:
"I was walking back home with my two greyhounds, Poncho and Jen, when I heard the lorry approaching behind me. I turned to see where it was and pulled the dogs onto the verge. As I turned back I saw four stoats run into the middle of the road and stop. I held my breath as the lorry thundered on towards them. At the last moment they made a dash for it, and I saw them all reach safety and disappear through the hedge on the other side of the road."

The above is for Huttonian in case he is having animal-story withdrawal symptoms - although he hasn't yet featured our neighbours' (Sheila and Margaret) success with Australian terrier Melba at the Kelso show :)

I am looking forward to featuring many more animal stories, especially those not on the Berwickshire front page. I hope Melba can be persauded to have a go at the Duns Show, surely a cut above the Kelso affair?.

The stoat above is from flickr. My advice is for it to avoid our Borders' roads-and especially that black spot the Fishwick bypass

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Free Church School - Stonework
Originally uploaded by cessna152towser
Thankyou cessna152towser for this flickr image taken around the corner from the small house in Duns. Huttonian was attracted by the severed right hand-reminiscent of Red Hand of Ulster. But in this case it may have been the result of cruel and unusual punishment meted out at the Wee Free church school in Newtown Street. The church is long since closed but I can't help looking out for elderly Dingers with a hand missing.

Or am I getting muddled up with Saudi Arabia?

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Friday, June 20, 2008

The Phoney War

Every so often BT decide to close a number of their 'seldom used' (BT speak) rural public phone boxes and as regularly local people protest-and more often than not the box remains open. The latest proposal by BT is to close 40 of them representing, says the Berwickshire, 25% of all public phones in 'the region'. Usual arguments apply-not every one has a mobile-not everyone can anyhow always get a mobile signal-as in the Old Manse kitchen unless you are on 02.

Hutton does not appear to be on the present closure list. We had our lovely old Red Box taken away some years ago and replaced with a modern cabin (see image). It used to be -e-mail enabled but this never caught on and the enable has been removed. Being ad hoc and ad hominem as my classics master used to say it takes no coins-a nice touch for the careful Border Scots-irritating if you have no credit card and don't want just to make an emergency call; but I doubt if this is much of a real irritant for the Huttonian Body Politic. In 10 years I have seen it only used once, by White Van Man, no doubt asking for fresh instructions for the New Manse, The Manse, The Old Manse, Antrim House etc etc ad nauseam

Burnmouth-or to be more precise, Lower Burnmouth is up in arms as their old fangled Red box is for the chop. 'Phone Box is vital service at working harbour' screams the Berwickshire page 13 headline.

'Hullo! Hullo/ Is thash( hic) Fifesh (hic) Taxis? Shend a a cccab plish(hic) to Lower Burnmouth ....I am too smashed (sic) to walk back to me boat..AUuuarggh (sick) '

Good point.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008


Coming back from Embra on the 1835 Nat Ex, all stations to Newcastle, Huttonian was privileged to be within screeching distance of 4 northern lasses. They were having a high decibel discussion on where to hold Annies Hen Party. Limit, absolute, £40 per head. (And pay for your own drinks)

Not Embra. Too far, too expensive and could run into stuffy disapproval. Dunbar? Where's that? Oh we have just stopped! Looks a dump.

Berwick? You must be joking. Nowhere to have it. BORING

Has to be Newcastle then?


( I admit that Dubar is not too attractive as viewed from the train. Nice golf course if a bit snobby)

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Huttonian said it would be in the Berwickshire and here it is

MBE for Hutton woman in Queen's Birthday Honours

Joan rewarded for work in community

Joan Purves MBE

"I was thrilled to bits"
Joan Purves

By Simon Duke

A BERWICKSHIRE woman is celebrating after receiving an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
Joan Purves from Hutton received her award as recognition for her Voluntary Service to her local community and after living in the area for over 30 years she has most definitely put the work in.
Joan actually found out she was receiving the MBE last month but was under strict instruction not to let the cat out of the bag until the official list was announced at the weekend.
"I found out in May but was told that I had to keep it quite hush hush, so the only other person I told was my husband Robert," said Joan.
"Obviously I was shocked when I find out and it's the type of thing you want to tell everyone but I didn't find it that hard to keep quiet. I was thrilled to bits and it would've been nice to tell more of the family but I waited until the night before the announcement to tell my daughter and now since the weekend everyone knows."
Joan is orginally from Castle Terrace in Berwick and attended Berwick Grammar School. She moved to Hutton in 1965 after marrying Robert and although the couple had a spell away from the area, they returned in 1999. And during her time in the village Joan has definitely made her presence felt.
She has been a keen member of Hutton Village Hall committee, a church elder and president of the Guild. And during her time with these groups she has been involved in a number of projects including the arranging of flower festivals and most notably the demolishing, re-building and re-opening of Hutton Village Hall in 2006.
Since the news of her honour broke at the weekend Joan has been showered with congratulations and is now counting down to her appointment with HRH Queen Elizabeth II in five months time. But until then she can look forward to no longer being just Joan Purves but Joan Purves MBE.

Note to Simon Duke HM please HRH is for lesser fry

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008
  Ffion in training

Originally uploaded by erase
I am grateful to her trainer for this picture of the young Welsh athlete taking a break from her trampoline training at a secret location in North London. She is a hopeful for the 2010 under 5 Celtic Games and her daily work out is obviously not taking too much of a toll
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
My Bloody Efforts

Huttonian missed it but is reliably informed that a fellow Huttonian-one with longer credentials you might say, has been 'recognised' by HM the Q in the Birthday Honours with a MBE for 'services to the community' Well done and heartiest congratulations. Under the new Honours system it is much more likely that the worker at the coal face-not that he exists anymore so the person on the 32 Bus (another endangered species)is rewarded and in my view the My Bloody Efforts as opposed to Other B******S Efforts is the cream of the awards.

The blog rather got up the nose of the honorand in days gone by, that is water down the Whiteadder, but we are delighted that someone who has genuinely worked hard and actually achieved practical results for the common good is to make the trip to Buck House, press the flesh, and get the gong.

I'll spare the blushes of the person concerned. But if you can't guess who it is -the Berwickshire should reveal all on Thursday next and might even drive the latest silly canine off the front page

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Its Not our fault-literally. And Have a Nice Day

Huttonian volunteered to help our post mistress with getting a fault repaired on her BT ISDN line-it has been off and on for weeks meaning that on several occasions the pensioners have had to be turned away as the payment of their money is an on line procedure. So I went on to BT.Com to try and speed repairs up.

Bt.Com 'report a fault' informed that this was not a BT number so can't help. I confirmed from the Post Mistress that it is.

I then went on to the BT interactive chat help facility and after being first in the queue and therefore having to wait only 10 minutes had the following chat:

Sean: Hi there, please give me a moment while I review your query.

Huttonian: I have just reconfirmed that 01289 386*** is the correct number for the ISDN line and it is BT

Sean: Hi Huttonian, I am sorry for the information that you are receiving from BT.com. The only other way to track a fault is by calling 0800 800 154, this is the number for our faults department. An advisor will be able to give you an update on the fault.

Huttonian: OK Thanks but it is strange that your online help does not recognise the number
Sean: Yes that does sound strange but this happens on occasions espesially with ISDN lines, I will report this to BT.com

Sean: Is there anything esle (sic) i can help you with today?

Huttonian: No Thanks and good bye

Sean: bye bye, have a nice day

Sean has disconnected.

I went on to 0800 800 154.

Guess what? The nice automated lady told me she could not help. It was not a BT number. Go to my service provider.

And no way past that barrier.

When we had the post office we paid pensions out of a cash box and wrote everything down in a book. The cash box always opened but occasionally the PO issue biro ran out of ink. We used another one with out any advice from the interactive help chat line.

And if the phone didn't work we had a nice quiet morning.

And we generally had

a Nice Day.Thanks for offering.

(The image is not the Hutton Phone Box which is the bog standard 'new model' -this is much smarter. But may not work. And BT may have disowned it)

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Partridges 1
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
I doubt if our resident Partridges will follow us to Duns although they might be safer in our secluded wee garden there once the Guns of August get going. Mind you, with these two and the group of Pheasants who also take advantage of the Wife's hospitality we might well have a little shoot across our extensive lands before we move on. And if we could include the family of rats who have taken up residence in the wood pile that might add an extra dimension to a traditional shoot for any passing stockbroker.

We will also leave our two pear trees behind-not that the Partridges seem particularly interested.

Perhaps at Christmas?

If they survive until then

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Sunday, June 15, 2008
A House, not called Manse, please

The area is swarming with Old Manse's, three of which are still on sale in Berwickshire-as far as I know, ours, in Hutton, is the only one actually sold; or technically 'under offer'. With the departure of an incumbent minister, there is a another ministerial pad on the market, also in Hutton. This is the Manse. Strictly speaking 'The Former Manse' So we have the Former Manse, down town, a snip at about £370,000, but yet to be snipped up, and the Old Manse, behind the Kirk, where Manses normally are. In Paxton, two miles away, is another Old Manse, once the residence of the Wee Free Minister. If you put Old Manse in the Royal Mail post code finder, TD15, out will come Paxton. Ours, having been called Antrim House for many years since it was demansified does not yet register. Bloggees will recall our battle to reclaim the Old Manse name (by which it has been long known in the village) and we only could do so when the Church of Scotland surrendered its Feu with the abolishment of the Feu (Feudal) system in this country three years ago. The post man knows this but Royal Mail has yet to update its data base.

If we ever get a full time incumbent Minister he or she will have to be housed. The Old Manse is gone, the Former Manse will surely have been sold, so any new residence will presumably be the Manse. Ah joy unconfined: A surge of Manses: the Manse, the Former Manse, the Old Manse (aka Antrim House) And if the new owners change the name of this house, well then, what fun that will be.

'Can I help you?

'I am looking for the Manse?

'Do you mean, The Old Manse, formerly known as Antrim House, now called ' Formerly-in-Allanton Lodge' or the Former Manse, which used to be the Manse after Antrim House was no longer the Manse?. Or do you mean the new Manse, which used to be called 12 Knowe's Close?

'Is this Paxton?

'No its Hutton. Ah you probably You want the Old Manse in Paxton-unless its the Old Schoolhouse -and right here in Hutton we have an old Smiddy and a former pub, and an Old School...'

Exit White Van Man screaming.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

To Chirnside at 8.45. The Early Bird getteth the Quality Press*

I got my Grudian all right but only a pile of Scottish Edition Daily Mails:
Sorry no English Daily Mail today said my favourite (only) newsagent. No demand for them

But last Saturday you had four?

Yes, said the guy behind me, them b****** have moved on.

Moved on? One family from the south? English Daily Mail for him, one for her, third for Granny and the fourth for his sandwiches at work.

Chirnside, slightly depleted, population wise


Ethnically cleansed, again.

* Daily Mail possibly excepted?

(The Image is presumably from a non Mail reader?)

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Dogged, does it, again

The Berwickshire Dog of the Week silly season continues with


Yes, front page again. Apparently Cromwell, an English mastiff, all 22 stone of him, saw off a burglar who was trying to nick a lawnmower whilst his owner was in the bath. Screams were heard, the lawnmower was unnicked and all that was left at the scene of the attempted robbery was a 'vest with lots of holes in it' This 'gentle dog' had gone into 'guard dog mode' when his owner's property was under threat. It is thought that the man (male vest?) will not return to have another go. Sure thing.

What we do not know is what happened to the would be thief. Did Bruce tear off his vest whilst ignoring his shirt, trousers, jacket and tie? Do modern thieves just wear vests? Perhaps Cromwell swallowed him with one gulp, leaving only the one garment for 'Mr Manners'. He is a big lad, and according to the Berwickshire, could be the 'heaviest dog in the world'

Quite apt for the Borders then-some of them must be amongst the largest humans on the planet even if some of them are visiting caravanners and not natives. If Morrisons were to run a competition for the nation's fattest customer-it would be won by someone 'in-store' in Berwick.

You can bet your last holey vest on that.

(The image is from the Berwickshire-and note to Owner-don't visit Ireland with your pet-an English Mastiff called Cromwell might be a tiny bit resented)

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hoarse with excitement?

The Berwickshire is seemingly increasingly desperate to fill its vast column inches and when it is not dogs stuck down rabbit holes it is horses writing to the editor

SIR, - We would like to thank the person who contacted the RSPCA, as they were concerned about our welfare at the Law Field, Coldingham, as on the inspectors’ findings we were described as being in very good condition.
The case may be that this person has no knowledge of the equine world - well rest assured our owners do.
So we ask this person, next time in passing, to take a good look around our field, and not from the window of a passing bus and they too will find we are well cared for. Yes there is not a lot of grass in our field just now, but we are fed and watered daily and we have all the hay our hearts desire.
So we ask this person not to worry as we are in NEIGH danger of starving!
(Horses at the Law Field, Coldingham).

And its good to know that there are still parts of this wild frontier you can reach by bus-presumably mostly used by country folk who might know a thing or two about horses. And if this is Big Jim country-if your fields can no longer support your equine friends, don't worry-offer them for development.

You know that makes sense

(The image may be of Edd or Navara looking for spell checker on his Pony Computer (PC)

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008
  Mr Chairman! Mr Chairman! Shhsh!

Islamic Conf 1
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Huttonian sat through many boring meetings at the UN and may have almost nodded off but I don't think I survived anything as monumentally soporific as this! Sent by a Kuwaiti bloggee and taken at an Islamic summit in May this year. More at http://www.flickr.com/blog.gne
Scrubbing the Truth?

Cognoscenti of planning in this area will see from the Scottish Borders Council Planning website :

that the Laird may be running into a spot of bother with an application to build a couple of bijou villas just outwith Paxton village. Apparently not everyone believes him 100% when he claims that his little development is to be on scrub land. Commentators (including the Hutton and Paxton Community Council, not to mention the neighbours) seem to think that the site is a rather nice little bit of immature wood land. (And one wonders if the L was in receipt of a grant for planting it a few years ago?)

One hates to resort to a cliche: but 'economical with the truth' seems to apply with some recent applications in this area-the now withdrawn one for the managers' house at Hutton Castle Mill-see previous posts-is a case in point. It seems silly for an applicant to be caught out on something which can be so easily checked-so with the planners apparently now on their way to look at the site it might be wise for the Laird to get planting:

some scrubs, presumably

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lets Hear it for the rabbit

The silly season is surely open us when that organ of record, the Berwickshire News has, as its lead story : NINE DAYS STUCK DOWN A RABBIT HOLE BUT TERRIER BROOK IS NONE THE WORSE FOR HER ORDEAL Yippee.

The front page also carries a large photo of the 'mongrel terrier' being comforted by her owner and son from whom Brook escaped chasing rabbits and then spent 9 days in a burrow before being dug out. Bringing the affair 'to a perfect conclusion'

The lesson apparently is -if you lose a pet never give up hope, miracles can happen.

Another lesson could be learning how to discourage your best friend, especially if intellectually challenged, from chasing inoffensive wild life. Perhaps they believed that mongrels are especially intelligent and would only go places from which it can easily return.

Not a word about the rabbits.

(we don't know whether or not the image is of the rabbit that Brook chased. But possibly similar, so will have to do)

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Monday, June 09, 2008
  Welcome to Scotland

Welcome to Scotland
Originally uploaded by Rescue Shrek
If Middle Englanders saw this all their preconceptions about Scotland would be strongly confirmed-see most recent posts
Duns Who?

At the Middle Englander party referred to in the Last Post below one guest had the courtesy to take some interest in our move to Duns, perhaps not realising that it is in Scotland. 'Somebody famous came from there?' 'Jim Clarke?' I suggested, although of course he was more closely connected with Chirnside, but why muddy the waters. 'That doesn't ring a bell' he said but then wandered off to talk to someone more interesting. Just as we were about to leave he returned bubbling with excitement-'I have just remembered your famous Duns person- a real giant in his time; oh dear' he is going to say Rabbie Burns and I will have to correct him.' 'Yes' he said : 'Duns was his name

'Duns Scrotus'

Ah well, marks for effort-not unlike the young Essex girl who rushed up to handsome young Scot kitted out in full Highland regalia.Kilt and all the trimmings 'Tell me' she gushed, glancing down to his middle region

'What exactly do you carry in your Scrotum?'

The origin of Man bag perhaps?

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Middle England 1 Scotland 0 (No show) aet.

The blog has been in deepest Derbyshire/Leicestershire/Nottinghamshire-middle England par excellence. Our hosts had an internet connection but it was having a week end off so no post.

One characteristic of ME is the total unawareness of any where else-no other place this side of Timbuktu(West)seems so far from Scotland despite Alba being a couple of hours up the M1.At a birthday party attended by mid Englanders of all ages I vainly raised the question of Scottish independence when conversation flagged. It continued to flag. Scotland, Independence and anything north of Newcastle seemed not to spark the slightest interest; Leicestershire's prospects in the County Championship (Poor) Yes; Leicester having the highest proportion of Immigrants in England (50%+) Yes; Crime in Nottingham not counting RH and HMM (high) Yes; But Scotland? ' You actually live there? Answer not expected and countered with a moan about house prices in Derby (falling)'Alex Salmond Who he? Or is it a fish?'
And under pressure-'if the b****y Scotch want flipping independence..good luck to the
b******s make no difference to us. Init? ' Might get rid of Gordon bleeding Brown -back to Glasgow or whichever hole he crawled out from'

Note to Mr Salmond. Don't worry about Kettering, Northampton, Norwich, Market Harborough, Melton Mowbray and all those Little Chefs on the A1(M) East, West. wherever. You're kicking at

an open door.

So it was a bit of a relief to cross the border south of Jedburgh on the A68 to be greeted by a notice in all official languages of the EU warning the unwary motorist that driving was on the left-

what a shock, one supposes, for that intrepid continental driver who has been on the wrong side of the road all the way from Dover

And he may well have sympathised with the second image-thankyou flickr (go to http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=welcome%20to%20scotland&w=all and scroll down a bit)

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Friday, June 06, 2008
Thankyou Havering on for alerting me to the new blurb on Duns drafted by VisitScotland. An improvement on the old entry but still curt almost to the point of dismissive

Formerly the county town, Duns still retains the air of an old Scottish burgh with its spacious market square.
In earlier times, Duns' wealth and importance rested on its thriving livestock market and like many Border settlements, it has had a turbulent history, evidence of which can still be seen in and around the town.

Duns Castle, whose grounds are now a park and bird sanctuary, was redeveloped in 1820 around a 14th-century peel tower given by Robert the Bruce to Randolph, Earl of Moray. Nearby Greenknowe Tower is set in beautiful surroundings and the small kirk at Ellemford is where James IV met his commanders before the disasterous Battle of Flodden in 1513. Atop the hill of Duns Law to the north of the town, stands the Covenanters' Stone, a memorial to the Covenanter army who camped in the area, ahead of their battle with Royalist forces at Berwick in 1639. Rising some 700 feet above sea level, the Law offers commanding views of the Merse and the rich, low-lying farmlands running out from the coast.

Also worth visiting in Duns are Manderston House which offers a fascinating insight into 'upstairs, downstairs' life, and the Jim Clark Museum, a unique centre devoted to the late world Formula 1 champion racing driver who hailed from Chirnside.

Duns is also recognised as the likely birthplace of John Duns Scotus, the great medieval philosopher who taught at the University of Paris during the 14th century. A bronze statue of Duns Scotus stands in the public park.

No mention of the Reivers-a plus-of Rabbi Burns' visits and he found it without any help from VisitScotland and of the Dingers stinging victory over English invaders (cattle thieves?) in 15 something-so no explanation of Duns Dings A.

Back to the drawing board

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Thursday, June 05, 2008
And he called for his Karaoke Machines, three

My heart sank when I discovered that the top story in Thursday's Berwickshire was about a dog which had spent 9 days stuck down a rabbit hole near Coldstream. That's a hole near Coldstream before some indignant 'streamer asks what I am calling a hole. Not me Guv, but I can't vouch for Rabbi B. But the following letter, from another Burns lifted my heart:This type of 'streamer need all the moral support we can afford

With the big Five O just around the corner, I find that I prefer a glass of red and the company of my good lady much preferable to an evening in any of the local hostelries.
However, upon hearing that the weekend of May 30/June 1 would see a gathering of fiddlers, guitar players etc descend upon the town, I decided to leave the cork in the bottle and head downtown to enjoy some easy listening music.
Upon my arrival at the Castle Hotel, I was delighted to hear the sound which had lured me away from my Californian red.
The musicians, around a dozen or so, were filling the air with wonderful sounds from an assortment of instruments, one or two I have to admit I had never seen before.
The volume of the music was such that it was possible to both enjoy the performance and have a good blether at the bar at the same time, something not always possible in pubs these days.
Just as I was starting to really enjoy myself, the players were asked to leave and much to my disgust were replaced by a chap who began setting up a karaoke machine. Within minutes the whole atmosphere changed.
The wonderful sounds we had been enjoying were replaced by a smoke machine, flashing lights and music loud enough to be heard in Cornhill.
For the next hour or so, a steady stream of musicians with guitar or fiddle at the ready approached the pub with the obvious intention of doing nothing more then trying to entertain.
As I watched them turn and walk away I was left wondering how they felt at having to play second fiddle* to ' I Will Survive ', 'Dancing Queen ' etc.

With the Big Seven 0 a distant memory Huttonian would have been tempted to have made a bit of a fuss, but one tends to be cautious at this stage.

You can see why the Ploughman Poet never returned to Coldstream.

Can't you?

* No pun intended, one assumes.

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Originally uploaded by erase
Sorry Chain Bridge Bloggee but having not had my camera to hand during our last visit to Lunnon, I could not resist posting the junior son in law's stunning study of the two little Celts taking their ease somewhere in the West Country.

Neither of them have quite the effortless high couture style of the middle-French-granddaughter but Ffion's boots would not disgrace a Parisienne Catwalk

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Gaming to Glasgow

Picking my way through the dry wilting leaves- Salade Darlington attached to my deep pan side plate size Pizza Del Costa Easta(National Express East Coast First Class at your seat service) I was glad to see that the young Frenchman, right front, had managed in his 'World Doom 2' to safely navigate the Steppes Ardente on his flying stallion, subjugate Chateau Noir des Spooks without dismounting or dematerialising and had earned 3,400 points bonus. In between these sterling deeds he had engaged in a lengthy dialogue on some French Chatroom with an ami into Corsican cooking-it seems- and had also downloaded a panel discussion on a new must have game : Doom Macabre 3' apparently, if I understood the Marseillaise accent correctly much superior to 'World Doom 2' now a bit last April. By the time we got off at Berwick he (destined for Glasgow if he survived Le Mer Mort) had started fighting his way through La Ville Ancienne, armed only with a battle axe and a multipurpose tactical nuclear weapon-and on foot, brave fellow.

Frankly much better than the Guardian as a journey passer.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Eurostar Le Bon Voyage

Originally uploaded by Peter Gutierrez

Because of circumstances beyond our control the Bar is no longer able to offer food or beverages-so we were informed by Monsieur Chef de Train as we emerged from the Chunnel St Pancras bound. Une Domage as the quality of the food in what the French call Le Bar and the Brits the Buffet put National Express to shame. But the quantity?

However, foodless or drinkless, no matter, the Buffet was still open. We were assured. French hospitality at its best. So if you want to read the timetable in comfort watching the Kent countryside rush past (the bits outside the tunnels and the deep cuttings) you know where to go.

THere was no mad rush

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Monday, June 02, 2008

We all survived the middle granddaughter's Peter Pan themed fourth birthday party with 19 or so (impossible to count at any one time) children 3-8 ; the boys as pirates and the girls as Wendys or Princesses. The number of French speaking youngsters was a bit of a problem when explaining the finer points of 'Captain Hook's footsteps, or Quelle heure est'il, Monsieur le Loup? The simplest games are always the best and walking the plank attracted the lot, regardless of sex.There was a guest appearance by a professional Captain Hook, at a greatly reduced 'commencement de saison' fee but he was soon sent packing as being 'trop scary'. The cake was a marzipan and icing covered barbie doll on top of chocolate-surprisingly no reports of late night vomiting as it was very rich and very delicious

Huttonian enjoyed a vague supervisory role and was in charge of the chablis for those grown ups permitted into jamais jamais land and soon it is back to the Merse for

a rest

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Sunday, June 01, 2008
  Don't do it .Whatever it is

Don't do it
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
It may be that you notice forrin signs more than domestic ones but certainly the French seem to employ them more than most. In my innocence/ignorance I thought this warning meant No Singing. So I immediately cut short my rendition of Flower of Scotland Actually it warns the public to keep away from Work in progres. In this case no workmen and indeed no construction was evident-the Marie Celeste sailed on And the Public, represented by Huttonian, went on its way.
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