Musings from the Merse
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Duns Disco Clangs A

Sometimes, even in the silly season-a lengthy period in the letter column of the Berwickshire there comes a classic intervention by a correspondent and the following is an example:

Through your column I would like to air my views and the views of many about the Duns Reivers week street party on Saturday, July 12.
Firstly the whole week was a huge success and the Reiver and his party did a sterling job and did the town proud. Well done.
However, the committee decided to have a disco playing at the street party with a DJ who loved himself and didn’t seem bothered if anyone else was enjoying themselves.
The biggest mistake he made, and is definitely an unforgivable mistake, is when he asked for the Reiver and lass to come on stage at midnight he introduced him as the Kelso Laddie, then oops the Duns Laddie!
It has been tradition for the Reiver and party and ex-Reivers parties to get on stage at midnight and sing the 23rd psalm and then get all other towns to join in with their songs.
However, after singing Duns Dings A (without a microphone) they were both ushered off the stage and told that was it.
Many locals tried to sort it out and were given the same response!
I think all in all a huge embarrassment for Duns as the 23rd psalm is what everyone was waiting for and people were blaming the Reiver and his lass for not fulfilling their duties. This was most definitely not the case.
That sort of party needs a band playing and in the past has been great and talked about by many towns, but this year I felt so sorry for the Reiver and Lass as it was not an appropriate ending to their week.

Huttonian moving house missed most of the week and had not heard of this embarrassing finale to what was apparently a good event. We have all met DJ's who get it all wrong but this seems to have been a classic of its genre. Perhaps the poor sod had never. come across the 23rd Psalm-not reached the charts recently. Or, and this is understandable, the DJ was, horrors, an Englishman and got lost amongst the lassies, Dingers, Reivers and a' tha' .

(Or he may have been one of our builders, which would explain a lot)

Next year bring back the Pipe Band

I say

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some Like it Hot

80F in the car park at Duns Golf Club (MBUI) Unprecedented in my time and reminiscent of golfing in the Gulf. Hot work but at least it keeps the Cardiac Three of the course and huddled around the drinks fridge. Not heat stroke on top of cardiac arrest for these three wise men. But a new menace: Yuff. The juveniles, scores of them and they always seem to be just in front of Huttonian and his partner. Young, yes. Skillful, some are. Vibrant and fast? Fast? The Cardiac Three could out pace them any time. They chat, they text, they retake missed putts, they park their trolleys either on the green or the furthest side from the next tee. They have several practice swings and then change their minds about the club. They argue over their scores whilst we fume behind them. Junior members; who needs them? Grump, Grump, Grump.

Roll back the years. For Yuff read Huttonian and his three golfing friends. 54 holes on the No 2 Course of the Royal County Down (PBUI) was the norm. But one obstacle to our progress. Norn Iron's answer to the Cardiac Three: Quake, Shake and Quiver. One had lost an arm, the second had noticeable tremor'(St Vitus' Dance as it was then called)- a distinguished surgeon as it happened and the third used two clubs as a sort of walking frame. 7 hours for a round on the No 2 Course (we youngsters, juvenile members, were not allowed on the Championship Track)They picnicked in a bunker at the 9th, half way round and never, never asked us through,them even when they had lost a ball and were scouring the gorse bushes in a hopeless quest to save half a crown. To them Juveniles had no 'standing', safely to be ignored The technique was to creep up behind them, hit over their heads, run past them and play on. Naughty I know but at least unlike the local yuff we played fast and never held anyone up. And as for Q, S and S. Two died on the course and the third just after a round. And when he had finished the drink someone else had paid for. In Norn Iron there is no better way to go.

So perhaps my partners and I are Q, S and S revisited. A bit of tolerance to the aspiring Woods and Harringtons is in order. But I wish for Donald's sake they would get

a bloody move on.

(The image is of the bunker at the 15th Very similar to the one at the 9th where Q, S and S used to lunch. Same sort of shape and identical sand. So no need to use your imagination)

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Small House in Duns

In response to enormous public demand Huttonian has posted these first images of the Small House in Duns-click on them for full glory. The Old Manse it is not but pleasing enough when all is said and done-and what is not done (nor begun) is the extension-the unfinished ramp to the unstarted site is apparent in two of the pictures. You will also note how many of our pitiful remaining possessions are sheltering under plastic there being no room in the house for them nor in the small summerhouse full of builders bacchanalians*(no such luck-this is Spell checkers suggestion for paraphernalia)

Sharp eyed bloggees may think that some of these images are the same. Some significant differences actually.Not that I could spot them. Apparently its a new technique of stereophotography

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A 'wee sweet doggie' story with a difference from the usual sickly gumph in last week's Berwickshire. Page 2 ' Dunbar Crew assist woman who tripped over dog'. A woman walking on the beach tripped over her dog-make unspecified-and broke her leg. Helpless on beach, tide coming in, dialed 999 on her mobile. Enter sea right RNLI with the Inshore Life Boat (not the Onshore one, (with wheels) Splint applied, oxygen and 'first aid'. Onshore Ambulance waiting.Happy ending.

And even happier. The writer, anticipating enourmous public interest, reported that the

dog was uninjured.

It's good to know that there are helpful people in Dunbar but not enough of them in the Golf Club where some officious lowheidyin refused Hutton the use of the facilities unless he paid a green fee. It makes you want to pee over the club house garden Roses, doesn't it?

The image is of the Dunbar Lifeboat-may well have been on its way to rescue a wee dog which had tripped over its owner)

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Story Time
Originally uploaded by erase
Ffion pretending to read her book but actually, cunningly concealed,, there is a FT financial report which she is covertly perusing. Once when staying with a pompous friend of mine I came down to Breakfast to find a Times newspaper apparently propped up on a chair. From under the front page protruded two short legs (The Times was then a broadsheet) The paper was slowly lowered and the owlish face of my host''s 12 year old son appeared. He glanced at me and squeaked:'''

The Foreign news is most disturbing'

Ffion better stick to the Financial Times.

Adieu to all that

In the steaming Merse sunshine Huttonian did a final trawl of the Old Manse-three drawers in a desk still stuffed with mostly rubbish. Found the missing lid of the kettle,an old video camera which may or may not work and a broken golf tee. Packed the golf tee. Was kindly allowed a last pick in the garden. Raspberries weighing down the branches, red currants in record numbers. Managed to fill a small ice box.
Found a golf ball amongst the weeds Packed it and the fruit. Looked in frog shelter; frogs glared back. Bye Bye Pond.

Handed in the final set of keys.

Au Revoir Old Manse.

Or should that be


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Sunday, July 27, 2008
Will. He no come back again?

Yesterday's 'siege' of Kelso for a Ducal nuptials (see previous post)seems partly to have been based on duff gen from Fishwick Special Branch who had been expecting Prince William to attend the posh knees up. Hence the massive security. Head of FSB, Code Name 'Jock' has admitted his error. 'I should have known that HRH was in the Caribbean on a Royal Navy exercise and could not make it to the Borders. Unfortunately my TV is on the blink and I missed the news.

A little worm of doubt gnaws (yes, I know worms don't actually gnaw) at my mind. Did the shutting off of Kelso actually take place? Try Googling it. No result. Local news: silent. Was it a figment of the imagination of the sun crazed couple in search of a golf course? Or was the security blanket so effective that the media missed the event.

Yet FSB seem to know about it. Mind you.

That proves nothing

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kelso Closed Shock. Stops Golf

For relief from the grinding mindlessly boring slog of sorting out the Small House in Duns, Huttonian went off to the Putton Mill Driving Range-11/2 miles from Duns, 11 from Hutton. An additional reason for moving? It reminded me of Dubai. No not the Disneyland Towers of Fantasy but the heat; 75F in Berwickshire feels like 100F in Dubai and just as humid. I used to play on our own Embassy Course (designed by me since you ask*) long before the present water guzzling tracks were laid and 9 holes in July was more than enough. Here hitting 50 balls in the blazing sunshine-tees not shaded from the south - was an effort and I was glad to stop having emptied my basket. As I was leaving a couple arrived, both with sets of clubs. I warned them of the heat and the danger of blood boiling if exposed to the sun too long-we travellers pick up a thing or two in a world weary way. Why were they not on a proper course with shady trees, babbling cool brooks etc? All closed they said. Competitions at the Hirsel and Duns (MPBUI) and not only was the course closed at Kelso so was the town-in a state of armed siege familiar to visitors to the Green Zone in Baghdad and the West Bank. Apparently the Duke of Buccleuch, who owns most of the joint had a family wedding and Princes Harry and William were in attendance so the Fuzz and sealed the place off (So that is why Fishwick Special Branch has canceled week end leave-I was wondering)

When I mentioned the need to protect senior members of the Royal Family from local threats -eg BLF ** or FTMN*** the couple expressed some sympathy for the Republican movement and went off to get broiled.

And I went off for some Ice cream; washed down with a very cold beer

Can't do that in Hutton

* It cost £1 to build. Follow that Mr Trump
** Berwickshire Libeation Front
*** Free the Merse. Now!

(The image is of the Duke's modest country pad)

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Friday, July 25, 2008
Creeping into Scotland

Would you be happy to welcome Berwick into Berwickshire
50% Yes. it's a great idea
47% No, Berwick is part of England and should remain so
3% I have no opinion either way

is the result of this week's update in the Berwickshire News of the great Welcome to Berwickshire running poll. Keeping Ber Wick English is now a minority choice. My weekly No vote seems to be making little difference so I wonder who is voting Yes twice? Its not the eccentric Mr Ritchie, the self-styled Regent of the Kingdom of Scotland. He believes that Berwick never left Scotland as a result of the Treaty of Something (Morrisons?) in 13 something.

The 'I have no opinion either way' is holding his ground and may well be voting every day to reinforce his lack of opinion.

Possibly a member of the a new Borders Party;

The Indifferents

I may vote for them at the next election. Or I may not.

I don't really care

One way or the other

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Leave a bit for the wit?

As part of our quart to pint pot move we gave away immense numbers of books which had trailed around the world with us. 300 alone to Embra University -the nucleus one imagines of the Huttonian Memorial Library. As many to the Charity shops with the racier titles discreetly placed in the Oxfam bin outside Sir Morrisons (No, don't rush, that was some time ago)

Despite buying up most of IKEA we are still desperately short of bookshelf space. Every inch must be used:returning (for the antepenultimate time) from house clearing in the Old Manse, I noticed a tiny space in the smallest shelf of the narrowest bookcase-too thin for a Wisden, too short for a Penguin; then I found just the gap filler-it fitted easily: a slim volume indeed:

Scottish Wit and Wisdom

Sample from John Masters-(Page 86 a Wit or a Wisdom per alternate page)

'Join a Scottish Regiment, my boy. The Kilt is an unrivalled garment for fornication and diarrhoea'*

*But not simultaneously, one imagines-Blog-ed.

(John Masters was English, funnily enough-npi)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Duns The Builders; read Dunces throughout?

Consider this:
Mid May Builders arrive on site and 'mobilise' This means turning two long ladders into ramps for moving stuff with wheelbarrows onto a slightly raised site. Gardener moves two recently planted apple trees to allow ramp to cross corner of garden. Cuts down a few shrubs Takes down large chunk of internal fencing.

Builders not seen for two weeks.

Late May Builders arrive and take down neighbours fence. Wrong fence. Neighbour peeved.

Three days later after several angry long distance phone calls (we were in France) Builders replace fence.Neighbour puzzled but mollified Builders not seen on external site since. Height of new extension remains at 0cm. (Mysteriously summer house full of builders debris. From what?)

Mid May discussion with Builder Highheidyin over wood burning stove. Kind we want in garden centre one mile away. Available immediately. Builder says he has own supplier in central Borders. Work to start immediately to allow us to move in on 21 July. Assured all internal works finished by end of June to allow decorator three working weeks to,er, decorate.

Mid July after many calls and many promises-Ins'allah, Manana, certain sure. Builder admitted that stove was ordered too late and had not turned up. Promised to start work Thursday.

Monday and decorator now working on what he could-Builder admitted by Thursday he meant 'Thursdayish'

Later: Builder on overseas holiday. Foreman took over.

Five days before move stove available. But chimney pipes not. Another outbreak of Thursdays. D day minus one: Stove arrived on site plus pipes. Fitters had no plans or instructions. Not sure where to put chimney piping. My suggestions impracticable because of limitations of human anatomy. Foreman claimed plans too vague.Architect shouted at him a bit.

After poring over plans fitters said that they needed more parts. Left.

Not seen since

We moved in on Monday. Stove out of box on hearth.Pipes in garden.

Today Architect e-mailed to suggest meeting at my convenience to discuss 'options for the stove. (? to have one or not?)

My convenience full of unpacked boxes. (No room in summer house)

To be continued and continued.

Bet your boots

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Duns Plus One

No crows in the chimney so we had a quiet start after our first night in the Small House in Duns but no glorious vistas either. A secret house in a secret garden but we pay for the privilege by being hemmed in all sides; in Hutton the nearest visible house to the north was a clear two miles, here it is not quite two metres.

The only outbuilding, a dinky 'summer house' is crammed full of builders rubbish-builders who have so far built nothing, but then it is only 5 weeks since they removed a neighbours fence -the wrong one-right neighbour, wrong fence, filled the summer house with rubble, presumably from a previous assignment as they have cut no sods here, and buggered off. We hope that they will return if only to empty the summerhouse so as we can find room for an array of boxes for which there is no room in the s-h-i-d. So far the weather has been kind but come the rains (and it rains in Duns, unlike Hutton-the driest place in the UK bar* Dunbar-and even drier since they closed the pub 50 years ago)only a thin sheet of plastic protects Huttonian's remaining possessions from the elements.

AS for clearing the Old Manse-the feeding of the five thousand resonates here. Having moved most of our possessions, we thought, that we have not taken has so far involved 5 car loads and the rubbish thrown out has filled the biblical 12 baskets. In this case it is 12 recycling bags-clear and purple;plus 21 cartons for the Charity Shops** (very little is classified as pure rubbish under the scrutiny of the wife-save Planet first,move house next.) But in my view life is too short to save the Planet-leave that to the grandchildren; carpe diem and fill not only our Wheelie Bin but the neighbours' as well.

When the wife is not looking of course

* Pun foreshadowed

** Oxfam will have fun with the 53 baby nappies; unused (I think) but individually offered as their containers have been recycled separately on the wife's instructions

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Monday, July 21, 2008

We are Dingers now. Well honorary Dingers at least. We have been here since 12 noon and no longer feel incomers. Shunters prowled around the Old Manse with the removal van, doors agape, avoiding the family of partridges pecking around the weeds in the gravel. A family? Well a Mum and 10 chicks born yesterday; images to follow when I can find where Shunters put the camera. Probably in the garden with the majority of our possessions there being not enough room in the house until the builders finish their work-not actually started. Luckily the weather is glorious and even if it rains our priceless Persian rugs will keep the groceries dry.

Yes it was sad to leave the Old Manse but we will be back every day this week removing a lot of disorganised bit and pieces and running the hoovers over the cobwebs and we have left behind almost as many pieces of furniture as we have moved to here so we will need to visit them from time to time.

Oh dear we are now going to have to buy strawberries, raspberries, blackberries,blackcurrants,gooseberries- a bumper crop coming up but it is the Coop for us.

At least I don't have to do the bloody pruning and shredding.

For that relief much thanks.

(Hutton is only 10 miles as the crow flies and a mere 20 by bus-via Berwick ,thats a comfort of a sort.)

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Originally uploaded by Rikki Sharp
Thank you Rikki Sharp. This is downtown Duns within easy reach of the Small House. Bakers, Butchers, Crumbly Cafes (for crumbly people as well as crumbly coffee cake), 2 newsagents, hardware shop, veggie emporium, deli, Chinese and Thai takeaways, 2 banks, lots of pubs, even a gun shop within a short stroll.

Change from Hutton in that respect.
Beyond Help?

Yes we move tomorrow. Shunters and their van at 0930. Are we ready?


(We have our washing hung up on our line at the SHID. And our washing machine installed.
And on the world's slowest broadband. Now down to .09MB)

That's something I suppose.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008
Duns Minus two

Day After Tomorrow

And no work started on extension. Stove ditto! 'Sorry we have a few missing parts' (forgot to order) but they have still put a hole in our sitting room chimney and our bedroom floor. Back on Wednesday. Bukra fii Mishmish (Apricots tomorrow) Nocturnal trip to the loo could yet be dangerous but an interesting shortcut to the ground floor.

Broadband Installed. 8mb promised by BT. We have 124bps coming through the roof and 64 going up. 'No No not an exchange fault' said yer man in Mumbai. The Wireless router is in the wrong hole. We have tried three routers in all the orifices with the same result. Oh Keep trying said Mumbai and call us again after four days.

I will

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Friday, July 18, 2008

I suspect this letter from the Berwickshire may raise some local hackles

"Having just read your lead story, “Binmen threaten strike action over pay cuts”, I think I may have a possible solution to their predicament.
I know binmen in the Duns and Hawick depots and possibly other depots can arrive back at their respective depots up to three hours before they are due to finish work. Instead of hanging around the depot playing cards or kicking their heels why not have them pick litter from roadside verges thus freeing up the SB Local squads to carry out other work.
Alternatively, I suspect they are overstaffed, therefore reduce the number of binmen, continue them on the pay they are currently on and we have a win win* situation for both them and Council Tax payers.

If the writer's name gets out to the Environmental Hygenists I suspect his/her rubbish will not be moved very far. (And may even be returned with interest)

* Rather than a bin bin situation?

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Normal Service etc

At our house cooling party several bloggees asked if 'Huttonian' would die with our move to outwith Greater Hutton-and a number of alternatives were suggested: The Reluctant Dinger being one of the more polite. Its a good question but for the moment Huttonian will live on-our hearth may be in the small house in Duns but the heart remains firmly in Hutton a mere 11 miles away from Berwickshire's capital. And it is all the Merse after all.

But as our Broadband is disconnected and we look to BT to hooking us up in Duns-all happening at the stroke of midnight according to at least three text messages I have had from the BBAT (Broad Band Activating Team it could all go horribly wrong and we might be off air for some time. But come what may, one fine day

Huttonian will be back.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008
D (Duns) Day Minus a little less.

Slowly, very slowly the small house in Duns is being moulded in the Huttonian (or The Wife's style) Mirabile dictu as the Romans used to say every time Novus Labor won a bye-election, the wood burning stove arrived plus all the bits and pieces to make a chimney where none existed before. It looks nice in its box and will, one day, look nice on the hearth. 'How long to install, chimneyise and erect associated works?' I asked the builder highheidyin. 'One day will do it'? 'Tomorrow?' 'Yes'. I was tempted to invoke the rodents of disbelief, as many tomorrows have come and gone in this long running saga-not a kitchen sink drama in this case but the sitting room equivalent. But I kept my silence, recalling the Spanish 'Manana', the Arabic 'Bukra Insha'allah' and wondering if the Borders like the Irish have no phrase which conveys the same sense of urgency. And we move in on Monday-surely that is urgent enough in any language

On the further plus side the middle son in law and a bloggee from down the (D class) road have used a combination of rocket science and brain surgery to assemble an IKEA bunk bed-adult size but intended for various combinations of grandchildren. So at least, come the weekend-D Minus 1, when two of them move in even before the Wife and I, there will be one unit of accommodation ready for occupation. We may have to content ourselves with our large bed, the only one we are actually moving from Hutton, with the chimney pipe from the sitting room below, bisecting the bedroom on its way to the roof,dividing the His n' Hers pillows. Cold steel coming between us but cosy when the stove is lit.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Fat of the Land

To day I went to Sir Morrisons (I can't believe I put in a link for Morrisons-but its just to show I can) which is unusual now that the wife does nor frequent foreign parts as much as she used to. This was to get provender and Pimms for the Old Manse's House Cooling Party, just concluded. And it was awful to see the effect of inflation on the core customer base at SM's. Everyone is even fatter than I remember from my last visit. Well not everyone but the vast (no pun intended) majority. You would have thought with the recession and belt tightening that inflation and shortage of the readies would have a deflationary affect on people's waist lines. Not a bit of it. Belt tightening there is but from the inside out; less tattoos evident as they have disappeared into folds of flesh. One enormous woman who I believe lives at 9-11 Castle Terrace staggered by, propped up by her trolley and counterbalanced by several cases of Stout (npi). 'Hi' she yelled to the person next to her (some distance away therefore)'They have let me out for the day! Great fun'


Do Weight Watchers' lock them up normally?

(The image is of a large lady in Cracow. Slightly below average for Berwick)

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Monday, July 14, 2008
Duns! Here we come? Perhaps

D Day minus 7

The work on the extension has not started!The wood burning stove is still somwhere but not where it is needed. Like in our small house in Duns. Ditto the associated piping. The decoration is just under way and it will not be finished in time

The Old Manse is a shambles.

And its next Monday we are talking about.

A week may be a long time in politics. But in a hyper spatial move time blackhole

Its a blink of the eye


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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Berwick Not at War With Russia shock

What a shame-I have firmly believed, ever since we moved here, the traditional version of the story that Berwick and Russia are technically still at war only to be corrected by Wikapaedia Thus:

The story tells that since Berwick had changed hands several times, it was traditionally regarded as a special, separate entity, and some proclamations referred to "England, Scotland and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed". One such was the declaration of the Crimean War against Russia in 1853, which Queen Victoria supposedly signed as "Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, Ireland, Berwick-upon-Tweed and all British Dominions"
Hence the curious apocryphal story that Berwick is (or recently was) technically at war with Russia. However, when the Treaty of Paris (1856) was signed to conclude the war, "Berwick-upon-Tweed" was left out. This meant that, supposedly, one of Britain's smallest towns was officially at war with one of the world's largest powers – and the conflict extended by the lack of a peace treaty for over a century.

The BBC programme Nationwide investigated this story in the 1970s, and found that while Berwick was not mentioned in the Treaty of Paris, it was not mentioned in the declaration of war either. The question remained of whether Berwick had ever been at war with Russia in the first place. The true situation is that since the Wales and Berwick Act 1746 had already made it clear that all references to England included Berwick, the town had no special status at either the start or end of the war.

Nevertheless, in 1966 a Soviet official waited upon the Mayor of Berwick, Councillor Robert Knox, and a peace treaty was formally signed. Mr Knox is reputed to have said "Please tell the Russian people that they can sleep peacefully in their beds." To complicate the issue, some have noted that Knox did not have any authority with regard to foreign relations, and thus may have exceeded his powers as mayor in concluding a peace treaty.

But wait-if they were at war the Mayor of Berwick was surely ultra vires in concluding a peace treaty with a foreign power? And if they were not what on earth was a Soviet diplomat wasting his time talking to His Worship? He must have thought he was on an official mission as in the 1960s Soviet officials had to get formal permission to travel beyond 50 miles from London. (Retaliation for similar bans on Western diplomats in Moscow) So if Berwick thought it was at war and so did the Russians perhaps it is Wikapaedia which has got it wrong. And if so, and Mayor Knox did not have the authority to make peace, irrespective of what the Soviet official thought he had done,legally the hostilities continue.

Which goes to explain that you see very few Russians in Berwick these days.

(And you might well ask-if Berwick is at peace why on earth maintain the walls in such good condition? Are we at war with some one else? Otherwise what a waste of public money)

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Saturday, July 12, 2008
Freecycling Down Hill

Huttonian is intrigued by the latest 'wants' ad in Berwickshire Freecycle:

HI everybody i am looking for a standard greenhouse, and large whisky bottles for keeping loose change in please read this and i would be
much appreciated to anyone who can help.

I am not sure how many people could offer a 'standard' greenhouse whatever that is-Standard Kew, room for 400 Routemasters? Standard Berwickshire Laird with seating for 200? Bog Standard bendy Metal with cheap glass? -but worth a punt I suppose. The large whisky bottle is also intriguing. How much loose change will readily fit down the neck? My 40oz (nearly empty, since you ask) Glenfiddich will just take 5p pieces-20p nope, pound coins no way. . I suppose you could fold up some of those fairly rare Scottish One Pound and slip them down the bottle together with a model of the Cutty Sark in full sail. But difficult to retrieve with Christian Aid hammering at the door.

It may be of course that he would like big bottles for the fun of breaking them in half and keeping the bottom bit for the 'loose change'. Top end, if jagged enough would make a neat personal (defensive) weapon for a night out in Eyemouth

Mind you perhaps he has the largest collection of 5ps in the free world and is saving
them for a wet day. Like today or any day in Dumfries

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Friday, July 11, 2008
Borders: Scotland's favourite have a pot shot destination

Many people might agree that the letter writer to this week's Berwickshire has a point. The peaceful friendly Borders has a dreadful reputation as far as the illegal killing of wild life is concerned.

- TThe most serious crimes are committed against people and perpetrators must be dealt with severely.
However, criminals who harm wildlife are to be pitied as well as punished, for they cannot aspire to anything greater than ignorance, greed and cruelty.
Ignorant because they do not understand that all of nature’s creatures exist in harmony, until man upsets the natural balance.
For example, if we try to eradicate rabbits, then of course the fox has to look for other prey. If a fox should take one of my hens, then it is my fault for not protecting them sufficiently, as the fox is only behaving naturally.
Keeping pigeons is a fascinating hobby, but people who do so must recognise that to a certain extent they are working against nature, not with it. It is inevitable that a pigeon will occasionally be lost to a raptor, but to suggest that birds of prey should be killed because of this is just plain ignorant - and selfish.
The same goes for landowners and farmers who are responsible for the deaths of golden eagles and red kites etc. Their motivation is pure greed as the only beauty they see is a healthy bank balance from the season’s shooting.
Then there are the badger baiters and dog ‘fighters’ who are so low down the pecking order of intelligence that they actually take pleasure in being cruel to animals.
Everyone should note that it does not do the reputation of Berwickshire any good if the only reason we feature in national news is because of wildlife crime.
We think we are so superior and ‘civilised’ in Britain, but we have a great deal to learn about sustainable and harmonious living from the ‘primitive’ tribes of the Amazon forests.

It may be a bit unfair to blame the land owners and farmers but I suppose you should start somewhere

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

The English were coming but changed their minds

Who hasna read in Border Lore
That Duns o'ferlies hauda a store
Her Castle, Hen Poo, Bogs and Law
Whae disna ken that "Duns Dings A'"

Certainly the Duns Summer Festival souvenir programme has more interesting stuff on Dunse than you can find anywhere else-VisitScotland's pathetically uninformative website especially included. The verse above is from Duns Dings A'-and goes on;

Whae hesna heard o'Doctor Broun
O'John Duns Scotus lairnit loon*
O'Tammas Bouston, Auld McCrie
And lesser lichts-like you and me?

Apparently in 1377 the Earl of Northumberland was unwise enough to camp in Dunse Wood-he was a long way the wrong side of the Border. Of course his intentions may have been entirely innocent like waiting for the Co-op to open the next day-but the Dunse folk were taking no chances (Duns having been burnt to the ground a couple of times the previous twenty years or so) At dead of night, well after the pubs were closed, they crept out of town with their rattles for scaring off deer and wild boars- a sort of stone filled tambourine made with dry skin and framed with sticks and held them aloft making a 'dinging' noise. The English party awoke to find their houses had broken loose and fled and they then had to retreat on foot towards the Tweed harried by the 'Dingers' No written records survive but a battle supposedly took place at the Bluidy Burn which ran with blood for three days.

Rumm'le the drum and toot the trump,
Gaur Bouston's auld 'Drumclogger' thump
Till a'oor cocks flee up and craw
Wi lusty thrappie, 'Duns Dings A'

(* Loon in a complimentary sense, one assumes)

Any one desperate to find out the meanings of all these words can find a Scotch dictionary on line (http://www.scots-online.org/dictionary/ )

The image is of Duns Castle. The Reiver and his party call on the Hay family to convey 'the respects of the inhabitants of Duns' On their way to the Bluidy Burn.Count Huttonian on on that, next year.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008
  old manse 8.45 pm July

old manse 8.45 pm July
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
'Remind me. Why are we doing this?' asked the wife as we went for one of our last walks down to the Whiteadder past the back of the Old Manse glowing in the July evening sun.

Heart says stay on .Head says move while you can.

Enough said really
Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Duns to rival Olympics suggests a bloggee. An event which will switch world attention from China to Chirnside or more precisely from Donkin to Duns. Read all about it at:


Not Jim Clarke nor even John Hutton, but the great late Duns Scotus whose connection with Berwickshire is being widely if belatedly recognised
700 years dead. Fancy that.

Will you remember what you were doing when the Pilgrims hit town?

Book your seat in the Parish (as in Catholic) Church) now-or resign yourself to watching it live on Al Jazeera

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Two weeks today is D for Duns Day. Out of the Old into the comparatively new. Out of the big into the small. So downsized that we have over done it somewhat and are building an extra bedroom onto the small-house-in-Duns. Will it be ready by the time we move? It might just be started. And so might the major redecoration involved after the the installation of a wood burning stove. Surely, asks Garrulous of Gavinton-putting in a wood burning stove is no big deal? It is when you haven't a chimney. This should have been done yonks ago but the builders forgot to order the stove which is something of a hiccup. And until the stove is in place and the chimney piping installed and boxed in no redecoration is possible either in the sitting room or the room above through which the pipe also has to go...and this is our bedroom. It all could be a bit messy. But 21 July-Shunters are all geared up to move our few sticks what ever the state of the house.

Just the two of you rattling around the house? Yes, plus Mr P Ms KB and the eldest daughter. But at least one bedroom will be usable.

Shoe horn any one

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Sunday, July 06, 2008


This months Big Story is:

Eyemouth and Coldstream to get town attendants

Towns top of the list to have public toilets refurbished

"Unattended toilets can give a very bad impression to visitors"
John Byford, SBC

By Janice Gillie

COLDSTREAM and Eyemouth are top of the list to have their public toilets refurbished and also to get a town attendant each, responsible for cleaning the toilets and other general duties around the town.
Across the Borders there are currently seven public toilets that are manned and charging 30p but income over the past year has fallen to £67,371, equating to 11,000 less visits and the cost of providing attendants is £180,000. Last week Scottish
Borders Councillors agreed to abolish charges at the toilets in Hawick, Jedburgh, Peebles, Melrose, Galashiels, Kelso and Selkirk with immediate effect and instead they would focus on improving the unattended public toilets across the region, described as often neglected, dirty and the target of vandals.
And, the meeting heard attendants were hardly run off their feet, especially in the winter. On one day in February this year, the toilets in Peebles were used by just six customers.
"This part of the service is making a substantial loss," said John Byford, SBC's head of environmental services.
"In places like Jedburgh and Peebles, bus loads of visitors are stopping at the free, unattended toilets and some of these facilities give a very bad impression of the Borders," reported Mr Byford.
It was accepted that the unattended and less frequently cleaned toilets were those most likely to be used by visitors to the area and "will almost certainly be creating a poor impression of the Borders for visitors who use them".
The report to councillors goes on: "The removal of charges could provide a very good public relations opportunity to demonstrate support for tourism in the area, and significantly improve impressions that our towns leave on visitors and locals alike. This is particularly true of "gateway" towns like Hawick, Jedburgh and Coldstream."
The attendants will be redeployed on a "broader range of environmental duties", including monitoring, cleaning and locking up the unmanned facilities, plus carrying out litter and dog fouling patrols.
In Coldstream a new town attendant would clean the toilet and immediate surrounds, the car park, Henderson Park and the main street on a frequent cycle throughout the day.
Eyemouth would retain both its existing public toilet blocks and the new town attendant would also carry out street cleaning, warden duties within the town centre, including toilet checking and cleaning throughout the day.
"I can give a guarantee that the attendants will visit all our toilets in our principal towns at least once an hour seven days a week to clean them up and combat vandalism," said Councillor Len Wyse.
"These staff will be visible, more productive and will become better known by local people, so developing their 'ownership' of these facilities," said Mr Byford. "They will become directly associated with the quality of the services provided, helping to build accountability and civic pride."
He said he would also consider a suggestion from Councillor Nicholas Watson (Borders Party) that a secure means should be arranged for satisfied members of the public to leave voluntary cash donations at all public toilets, thus bringing in some income to the council.
Mr Byford will prepare a report for September on a major refurbishment programme with the facilities at Coldstream and Eyemouth already identified as priorities and work undertaken as soon as possible. Other facilities must be upgraded to comply with disability discrimination legislation, while warm water and hand drying facilities should be incorporated where practicable. His report will include a survey of usage to be carried out this summer.
Had councillors rejected the revised programme of toilet provision in the region the toilets at both Coldstream and High Street car park, Eyemouth would have been demolished "to incorporate pay stations and achieve Disability Discrimination Act compliance".
"The appearance of our public toilets both outside and inside affects the public perception...some of the existing decoration schemes are to say the least bizarre, resembling more a set from a science fiction film, with their silver walls, than a public toilet," said Mr Byford."

Huttonian has been campaigning for some time to have 'pay as you pee' abolished in the Borders so this is good news for the cross legged and impecunious. 30p per is daylight robbery-obviously the good people of Peebles (no pun intended) have shared this view-hence one unofficial Town motto-' Welcome to Peebles: Where Peeble Hold Their Water'!

The Blog welcomes the advent of the new Super-Loo Gauleiter. Visiting the facilities 24/7, (not to mention dog patrols, making themselves better known to townsfolk, tackling vandals and 'other environmental duties')is a challenging job description and I hope the little china soap dishes will soon be overflowing with gratuities from grateful customers. And how about sprucing up the toilets in a more imaginative way-hot air blowers and warm water are all very well but lets think bigger: access to the internet from the comfort of your seat,eye level digital TV screens at the urinals (in the Gents as well) Starbucks Coffee machines, A selection of groceries giving new meaning to the concept of convenience shopping, (merely concentrating on Durex Dispensers are so last century) and individual names for each lavatory complex taking a leaf from the Pub tradition recalling historical events, folk culture, literature etc : 'A Slash of Distinction'' 'The Meeting of the Waters' ' The Relief of Mafeking' 'Stand and Deliver' 'The Number Twos Detective Agency' 'Down in the Dumps' 'Ps and Qs' '(or the other way round in the more popular watering holes)*

Hutton Think Tank would welcome suggestions for its local version of The Good Loo Guide.

IMAGE : Galashiels-dream on

* That's enough Loo signs' Blog-ed

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Duns still Dings A'

"Wi' lads singing, wi' hooves ringing
And standard straining braw-
Past the Castle's grey auld towers
And ower the Law;
Frae Merse clear tae Lammermuir.
The wind, blawing Caller-Pure,
Will joy to hear the galloping cheer
For it's Duns dings a!"

You will of course recognise the chorus from 'The Reiver's Gallop' written by the Rev.Hugh Mackay as long ago as 1974. Huttonian came across it in the Duns Summer Festival programme-a snip at £2.50 at most outlets in Duns. The week begins tomorrow with the Kirkin' O' Reiver (I doubt if the 15th century lot went any where near a Kirk) and ends next Saturday with the Closin' Ceremony.

One of the images in the souvenir programme show the 1958 Reiver on his 'Rideout' stopping for a glass of milk at Borthwick Quarry

A Glass of Milk!

Did Robin Hood and his Merry Men take time out from robbing the rich for a nice cup of tea, two lumps and just as it comes?

Nice thought.

In the meantime the Festival will be worth a visit-especially the Ba' Game, about which more, later.

If I am spared

(Yes, yes I have used this image before of three Reivers waiting for someone to bring them their milk as a horse enjoys his greens. The telephone pole adds a touch of modernity to this ancient scene)

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Post Code Lottery Revisited

Picture the scene. You are sitting amidst the discomfort of your own home when the phone rings' Hullo Mate. Its Geordie White Van Carriers here. Speaking from the Berwick/ Kelso Road. You are in Bloody Scotland. Not Bloody England. Can't deliver your item. Sorry. More than my jobs worth.It's back to the Dee Pot, transfer to Scotland HQ and then someone from Edinburgh will bring it. Have a good day!'

Yes its the vexed question of TD15. Half in England and half across the wild frontier. The guy in question had ordered something on the net, given his post code and returned to his sofa. This carrier apparently is only allowed by his franchise to operate in England but had assumed that TD15 (Berwick upon Tweed) was wholly Northumberland and got a very nasty shock when he roared past Canty's Brig, up the hill towards Paxton House and was 'Welcomed to the Scottish Borders' This far shalt though go and no further.

Odd. Fortunately most carriers don't seem to mind, otherwise we would never get anything.

In this case 'Scottish Borders: Scotland's Favourite Short Break Destination was on the button.

Very Short
Thursday, July 03, 2008

Chicken Licken Good

Football playing Chickens have driven silly dogs off the front page of the Berwickshire News And just around the corner from the Old Manse to boot (No Pun intended)The story goes:

There's fowl play on Hutton farm!

Chickens encouraged to play football to keep them fit and healthy

I believe my chicken's eggs are the best you can buy"
Farmer James Maclean
By Kenny Paterson
TURKEY may have been one of the shock troops of Euro 2008 but they are not a patch on a team of footballing Scots chickens.
The birds like nothing better than a kick around with a football to keep them fit on a free range egg farm near Hutton.
They have punctured at least a dozen red balls since the start of the season according to farmer James MacLean but have not been involved in too much fowling.
He explained the chickens are given free access to the outdoors, fed organic cereals and encouraged to play football to keep them fit and healthy.
They are also fans of BBC Radio 2 which is played to them each day as background music and are regularly given fresh sawdust to scratch in, all part of the owner's commitment to animal welfare.
Mr MacLean claims this has led to the exceptional quality of their organic eggs which will be showcased at the first ever Taste Scottish Borders Food Fair next month.
He set up his firm Border Eggs at Hutton Hall Barns in Berwickshire last year and soon realised his chickens had a passion for the beautiful game.
Mr MacLean, 30, said: "The chickens like the chance to scratch around outside and knock around a football. We also play Radio 2 to them, especially in the mornings as it seems to encourage laying.
"I believe my chickens' eggs are the best you can buy and we'll be selling them at a new food fair which will showcase the very best produce from across the Borders at the end of July."
(The Taste Scottish Borders Food Fair is taking place as part of the ever-popular Border Union Show in Kelso on July 25 and 26 and will feature dozens of producers from the Borders and surrounding areas.)

I wonder if the RSPCA have a position on this. Forced to listen to Radio 2! How cruel is that? Would not the silky charms of Radio Three be more humane for Organic Guardian Shredding Fowl?

I suppose it could be good news for Borders football fans-sign up the best XI chickens for Berwick Rangers-they could hardly play worse than the present selection-and under pressure,peck away-the expression 'dead ball' will have a
new meaning.

The image from the Berwickshire is apparently of Chicken Licken scoring an own goal preparatory to telling the King-or another Highheidyin-that the Sky Aerial (receiving Radio 2) has fallen in.

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Country Strife http://countrystrife.blogspot.com/ has scooped Hutton on this-its the early bird which getteth the (offered-Ayton) can of worms on Berwickshire Freecycle-and this post is still up with no one so far claiming E.Presley's former pet. Actually its against the rules to mention pets on Freecycle (together with drugs, alcohol and hand held weapons of mass destruction) but in this case the moderator has made an exception

"A large tri colour hound type dog wearing a collar has been handed into
the BARK kennels Thursday Morning. We understand he was seen running
around Chirnside last night. He was picked up on the Chirnside Duns
Road near Briery Mill.

Please contact BARK if you have any information on 01289 306299"

And if you can't claim the dog for goodness sake offer a large tent, marquee or gazebo. You know it makes sense

(If you put 'hound dog' into Flickr out pops hundreds of images. This is one of them and may not bear any resemblance to the one chez BARK )

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Come and Get It

'I'm looking for some beauty therapy type equipment. therapy couch covers, face hole covers, bolster cushions, thick bath sheet towels (in good nick), chair/stool etc'
writes 'Overrunwithrabbits'

And she is also looking for 125cc motor bike (must work) and presumably some where to put it:


Large Tent, Marquee or Gazebo : 'any of these would be much appreciated' she adds

Yes this is Berwickshire Freecycle-All Human life is there-free. You want? You collect. After making use of it (offering in my case, anything from carpet backing through leather pouffes to rather old golf balls) I can affirm it is certainly more fun than getting in a house clearer

Seem people do tend to push their luck. One guy wanted a motor caravan. 'I know its a long shot' he pleaded

But he got one.

That day.



(The image via Flick is from West Sussex Party Marquees-a bit away from Berwickshire and probably not free. Worth inquiring Overrunwithrabbits?)

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

In Them Thar Hills?

Huttonian is highly indebted to a very local bloggee for a link :
to a news article about a major gold strike in Ireland-not far from the Norn Iron South Armagh border. This could be the biggest 'gold field' in the British Isles even bigger than Scotland's Klondyke at Tyndrum. The bloggee wonders about the chance of finding gold in the Mournes.

I am not sure if anyone has looked in County Down. Not for gold anyhow. For the IRA's weapons 'beyond use' or otherwise, possibly Its much easier to find treasure south of the border especially where the Wee People are to be found. All you need to do is to catch a Leprechaun and only let him go when he has led you*to Fairy Gold-failing that Irish Rainbows invariably have crocks of gold where the bow strikes the earth. Its quite easy when

you know how.

Or so they say

*The Leprechaun imaged above is more likely to led you to the pub

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The White Van's Burden

Huttonian washing hanging out the washing as one does in the Merse when it is too hot to do anything else-wrap yourself in one wet sheet and hang up the others -magic-when a White Van man arrived in search of Honeysuckle Cottage. His Tom Tom had lead him to Hutton-all the village shares the one postcode, and then he had spent half an hour looking for the cottage which is a former outbuilding in our 'compound' He apparently could not find anyone alive(and out of doors) in the village to ask in our post post-prandial heat induced stupor (it was 76F, honest) and when he did made the mistake of using the word Manse; which one? the former one?, the future one?, the Old one?etc etc. Honeysuckle due a blank but as he was about to return to Selkirk he met one of our neighbours who personally escorted him up Kirk Lane to Honeysuckle Cottage. Mission successful and he left Hutton hotter but less bothered than when he had arrived.

The image is of a white van turning circle. May be part of the Fishwick Bypass. Our man to day could have done with one as it took him ten minutes to reverse down Kirk Lane with several false starts

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