Musings from the Merse
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Megaphone Development: The outcome

If you look here*

you will see that Huttonian has tracked down the application referred to in the post immediately below. He thought it might be turned down.

It was.

Lesson there somewhere.

(*On opening the link scroll down to 'Hutton and Paxton Community Council' in the appropriate search slot and put in 01/04/2008 as the start date and 01/08/2008
as the finishing one and Bob's your new friend)

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Megaphone Development

For some mysterious reason the Scottish Borders' Planning Highheidyins have made it difficult to access the latest details of the contentious outline planning application for four new houses at Hutton Castle Barns. It may be because this is not a new application but the continuation of an old one which was withdrawn late last year because of local opposition and because the planning flaws in the proposal were exposed. It was a classic case how not to apply. Let the neighbours find out either when they are contacted via the formal notification process or when they log on to the SBC Planning website! It would surely have been more courteous to have knocked on a few doors (5 or so only) and explained what they wanted to do taking account of people's views and comments and seeking to modify the proposal accordingly. Should not be a problem when it is for an outline planning permission and there is accordingly room for manoeuvre. In this case the neighbours were presented with plans apparently showing houses in-your-face-mate-just-right-across-the-road-peering into-your-bedroom-sort-of-thing. In fact the sites were so large that putting the houses at the back of the plot rather than at the very front might have helped to elicit a more positive neighbourly response. And apart from understandable nimbyism there were also real problems of access and excessive traffic.

And then the proposal resurfaces a few months later, unchanged and without any attempt at consultation. Same plans, same in your face bricks and mortar, same access problems, same green field site on good farming land-nothing altered in the light of previous comments. With the obvious result. Same opposition.Same deficiencies

You might think, mightn't you that such a proposal hardly deserves to succeed? And the smart money says

it won't

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Nothing happened in Hutton, horror

Huttonian knew it would happen-habitual bloggees from the Hutton, Paxton and Fishwick catchment area have formally complained-or at least one has, that the Blog is BORING as its focus has moved away to Duns. Where are the snows of yesteryear-or as that excellent if reluctant linguist Farmer C might put it 'Ou est les nieges d'antan?'. The trouble is that although little happened in the greater Hutton metropolis while we were there, the little there was provided good blog material. I assume that little is still happening in our old happy hunting grounds but it is difficult to detect at this distance-indeed it was often difficult to detect even when under our noses-the slurry from Hutton Hill always excepted. On a recent visit to Hutton I inquired about recent happenings-'nothing' to report. Except, of course, apart from an attempted break in at JR's , a slightly vandalised car blamed on the frustrated thieves and slurry wagon shedding its noisesome load in Hutton Main Street. Thats a lot of nothing by Hutton standards and your faithful chronicler nearly missed it.

I had asked Fishwick Special Branch* to keep me informed of significant developments but under their rules I no longer 'need to know' as I am now outwith. So Farmer C and other bloggees, Huttonian is dependent on good information about the local scene-my previous network of informers have been pensioned off or left the locality

So up to you matees.

* A FSB spokesman also explained that they have been deprived of their counter terrorist role and asked to concentrate on (undercover)traffic duties in the Fishwick
Bypass area; bad news for those scores of Tweed bound fishermen who daily jam the roads with their 4x4s hurtling around the infamous dangerous corner hell bent on scaring the living daylights out of gentle countryfolk:





(The image is a FSB/Hutton Think Tank computer generated image of traffic through Fishwick in late 2009 if the bypass is not built by then)

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Gala Fails to Ding A. Apparently

The team doing the extension and associated works on the small-house-in-Duns mostly hail from, Galashiels. One of the first things we learned on our arrival in the Borders 11 plus years ago was that people from Gala were apparently heartily disliked by many of their neighbours and near neighbours; we were never told why but 'he is from Gala' seemed condemnation enough in many quarters. It is surprising as our Gala builders are a very friendly, personable (and efficient) bunch so I supposed the origins of this suspicion and hostility lies in the murks of history. Duns people are of course known as 'Dingers' 'Duns Dings A' is the informal town motto. I asked our joiner what the Gala people were called by the cognoscenti. It depends, it seems, on who is doing the calling but in the Borders they are known as 'Pailmerks'

This is nothing to do with being the wrong sort of Reiver in bygone days but refers to the fact that Galashiels was the last major Border Toon to get plumbed in toilets. So long after Melrose and Hawick were flushed with success the Gala people were still sitting on their buckets.Not always user friendly on the nether regions.

Hence 'Pail Merks' or if you speak proper :

Pail Marks'


And asks Robbie of Reston would a Galashiels Stand up comic (Beyond the Pale in this instance) be known as a


(The image is one of 1100 of Galashiels on Flickr-this was captioned 'The Best Thing in Galashiels'

The bus out of it?

Rather like Dr Johnston's comment that the Scotsman's favourite sight was the Highroad to England.)

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Thursday, August 28, 2008
The vexed questions of rural post offices and the need for a TD16 postcode got an airing at a recent Scottish Borders Council meeting at last attracting the attention of local highheidyins. The Berwickshire has the story here

`So the Big Vision in Post Office Ltd is to replace community post offices in Hutton, Greenlaw and Eccles with mobile vans-thus in the case of Hutton removing the last public service institution from a village, which because of its concentration of elderly folk really needs it. So the pensioners will hang about in a cold and windy street, rain hissing down, haar bound, waiting for the post office van with the only diversion being the possible guest appearance of the number 32 Bus. No doubt the van will be frequently late and then one red letter(npi) day, three will arrive at once.

Sad news for Huttonian as the Old Manse, aka Antrim House gave shelter to the post office for several years and he even enjoyed a brief period as Sub Post Master with a name badge, huge metal weighing scales, a safe screwed to the floor and the challenge of clearing the breakfast table before the first customers (never less than 13 on a Monday) arrived for their cash and conversation-the kitchen table being the 'counter' for 3 years before the first computer arrived and the mammoth operation was transferred around the corner into the old Milk room. And much later to the village hall with its purpose built room now to be abandoned. And I wonder which is more cost effective-paying a post mistress an hourly pittance for an 8 hour week, with an office provided at a peppercorn rent or a gas guzzling van, with presumably a full time driver/post person in charge?

As for the post code saga -read all about it- but with the post office being 'impenetrable' as Councillor Cook so aptly puts it the prospect of having a TD16 for rural Eastern Berwickshire seems as remote as ever

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Swinging the lead?

Huttonian plus the youngest daughter and affiliates were peacefully picking Blackberries in 'The Clouds' just outside the castle when a car drew up besides a young mother with a twin buggy who was seemingly about to join us in this late summer harvesting. The driver said something to the mother and drove on. Apparently he had warned her (but not us) about feeding blackberries to her children as they were 'covered in lead' from the passing cars. She passed on her way leaving the fruit to the incomers. We wondered why there were so few black berry pickers around (in contrast to France) so this may be the reason. I doubt if more than twenty cars a day pass along the Clouds-its not the Fishwick Bypass for goodness sake

And lead? Do the vehicles around here have access to leaded fuel?

Anyhow spread the rumour.

All the more for us

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Huttonian recently commented on the quality of local papers in French France as compared with our own dear Berwickshire News. The latter is a decent enough rag, well produced with the odd failing such as giving too much space to odd Loonies (tautology admitted) like the Uncrowned King/Regent of Scotland and gruesomely winsome pets, whether talking horses or incontinent curs and their unlikely escapades. The Finistere equivalent, Le Telegramme, is a daily and is of course also focused on local issues but also has an impressive international section. It covered the Olympics for example-admittedly only grudgingly mentioned non-French successes-so not much of a story then- (The medals table gradually slipped from page 3 to page 40 as the week wore on: Team UK Third Les Bleus: look over the page) but international events well outside La France were also covered.

Traditionally international events have not figured in the local British press unless a native son or daughter figure in them. The classic example was a northern Scottish weekly reporting the sinking of the Titanic with a small header:


But it is always the local press which gives us our best moments-grisly pets and self styled Regents excepted.

The Cork Examiner in the 1950s caried a front page banner:

Mistaken for a rabbit

(The image is titled 'Marion lit le Telegramme'-she is happy Les Bleus have won a bronze for Origami' Fantastique)

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Monday, August 25, 2008
A BeTter Way? Revisited

Bangalore has egg over its collective face I fear and bully for A Berwickshire bloggee. After 4 weeks of badgering, e-mails, filling in on line complaint forms, long distance calls from Bangalore and finally elevation of the 'issue' (BT does not have problems, only issues) to the Chief Executives office, action has been taken .Bangalore has all along insisted that my slow broadband speed was my PC's fault 'I am telling you Sir, your are using the wrong aperture. Or possibly your configuration is not tickety Boo I am sending you long and comprehensive instructions-just be following them and Robert is your uncle'. Blue in face, numb of finger, Huttonian explained that bloggee techie had done all the BT tests- twice at least and there were no inside the house problems and when he suggested that it might be an exchange problem-specifically a soft ware malfunction he was met with very polite derision: No Sir, everything in your exchange is working perfectly-now just go through this 45 page check list and all will be tickety boo. Just be leaving it to the experts.

Thanks to insider advice from the Berwickshire Bloggee techie (using back channels not back passages) the Chief Executive's office, now alerted to a real problem which is apparently not confined to TD11 kindly offered to send a technician, sorry, engineer, to inspect the outside connections, junction box, line-but no mention of the exchange or software problems. The BT guru turned up and phoned me in France to say he could not get into the house (because I was in France, presumably) and was going away until I could let him in one other day. Another expensive call from France and the CEO's office confirmed that no access was strictly necessary but said that their engineers liked to have access to double check that Johnny Customer had not got it all wrong. I mentioned a soft ware failure. CEO's office smiled (it sounded like a smile) politely and said she would be in touch. 'If necessary'

It wasn't.

30 minutes later the engineer phoned. On a whim he had looked at the exchange. Guess what? Expectant pause. A software failure. It was no longer a failure. I would get up to 8mbs-no prob. Have a Bon Journee.

Gosh I wish I had thought of that.

I will enjoy telling Bangalore

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Originally uploaded by christiwild
Yes Christwild this is very beautiful-but actually I prefer the splendour of St Abb's head or the cosiness of Coldingham Bay. And it is good to be home after fours hours drive across Brittany, 7 hours on the rather mangy Brittany Ferry-two hours to load compared to 20 minutes with Stena Line and two hours to offload having to show passports on a Bank Holiday Sunday to disgruntled British immigration officials 8 hours after showing same to disinterested French dittos. Then 9 hours from Plymouth to Duns.

Good to back home on stilts but I have to admit on a number of points (Dog pooh always excepted) the French have many admirable traits which could be imitated in the Merse to our advantage.

But at the Olympics they were rubbish.

Poor old Bleus.

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Friday, August 22, 2008
Georgia for Aye

I know it is still the silly season in Berwickshire but is it really silly enough for that esteemed organ The Berwickshire News to publish the following letter:

Your readers and yourself will, as I am, be concerned about the situation in Georgia just now and so will, I am sure, be interested in the following which I have written as Regent of the Kingdom of Scotland, confirmed as such by the Parliament of the Kingdom of Scotland in 2000 at its very first meeting, to the editor and readers of Georgia’s only English language newspaper, ‘The Messenger’.
“Dear Editor - This letter is to tell you and your readers that your dear country has the full support of the Kingdom of Scotland especially at this time.
Do remember all of you that David always wins against Goliath, that Truth is mighty and shall prevail.”
Regent and Acting Chancellor,
Chief Minister of the Kingdom of Scotland,

I was demonstrating to a fellow blogger at "Ici on trouve le Web" at the Beg Meil Garage how superior our regional papers were to the Le Telegramme, a local daily. He was suitably impressed until he came to Mr Ritchies latest effusion. I tried to explain in questionable Franglais the background and context. At the end he said something to the effect that with the support of the brave Ecossiers the people of Georgia can sleep peacefully in their beds? Ne cest pas.? so I may have not made myself entirely clear. I tried again with more gesticulations;"Ah do you mean that Monsieur le soi disant Regent is un peu touchè?"

Always mindful of the law of libel I contented myself with a cautious "peutetre"

These French keyboards not only lack the 'At' sign but have no apostrophe. Sorry Lynne Truss)

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Espace Naturistes
Originally uploaded by piccadillywilson
Huttonians attention was drawn to a similar notice near Beg-Meil- 800 metres of prime beach reserved for nudists. (see second image just uploaded) The wife discouraged further exploration for some reason . However given the brisk and cold wind, the drizzle and the almost haar I wonder if even the keenest observer could have told the difference between distinctive female charecteristics and

Goose Bumps

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008
ExPat StillFat

I am trying to think what makes this resort so different to a British one. It is clean, no graffiti, no chance of vandalism, people greet you with full eye contact,everyone is polite and of course most of them speak French. Hah I said, on the beach,there are fat French women looking at a well built matron of a certain age who had rather unwisely removed her bikini top-although "topless" was hardly appropriate in her case-rubbing her reddened encyclicals she remarked to her even more bulging companion" I do so miss my Morrisons over here"

But Beg-Meil has one striking similarity to Spitall :

Dog Crap: which like the offensively small chiens Francais is everywhere- the smaller the dog the larger the sausage

And no notices threatening retribution to incontinent dog owners.

Just watch your feet.

Vive le Sport

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Monday, August 18, 2008
  Beach, Beg Meil

Beach, Beg Meil
Originally uploaded by bekra
Yes it is like this but yesterday you could not see the sand for bodies. I thought it was only the British who went in for crowded beaches.

Mind you many were British
Safely in Bretagne and trying to blog on q non-querty keyboard. And no @* on the keyboard to boot (npi)!

Impressions of Plymouth I hear you cry: Wet: The old riddle/ what to do in Plymouth on a wet Saturday?

Go to France.

But I do not recommend Brittany Ferries on an August Saturday afternoon. Wall to Wall Karoake and the food runs out after three hours on a six hour crossing. With 50% of our party struck down with mal de mere we took a cabin on about L deck below the cars and snoozed throuh the car alarms going off and the very large waves beating against the hull away above our heads.

Back to the Merse next Monday.

If we are spared.

of course

*@ added en retour a Blighty

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Friday, August 15, 2008
Paradise Postponed

We should now be whizzing down the A7,M6, M5 but alas car trouble-wrong sort of fuel in tank apparently and it is going to be a bit of a cliff hanger if we are to make an overnight reservation in Somerset by 10 pm before the door is slammed in our faces. So it might be a case of driving on through the night to get our Ferry from Plymouth and then six hours on the heaving vessel-no HSS Stena this one-followed by a midnight flit across Bretagne with only Monsieur Tom Tom to guide us.

Why didn't we go to St Andrews again this year?

Or Eyemouth?

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sodden Flodden

In all the excitement of sorting out the small house in Duns Huttonian completely missed the annual foray to Flodden Field- a central part of Coldstream Civic Week. This years oration was given by our former MSP Euan Robson in filthy wet conditions and you can read all about it here

In response to enormous popular demand I reproduce an annual tribute to Flodden:


Once more they are at it .
Repeatedly, annually.
(Since 1513, probably)
Reivers, Reivers’ Lasses,
Coldstreamers, ‘Wynsome Maides’.
Battlefield orations by real live
Generals. In full plumage.
Sods carried in triumph.
English sods to a Scottish town.
Tattered, ragged Saltires unfurled
Ancient oaths retaken.

For what?
To commemorate
a glorious victory?
A disastrous defeat cutting down
the Flower of Scotland.

Can you imagine the
had they won?

I pity those
poor English incomers
who live near
Unlike those of us
in the Borders
they can’t take refuge
in the smugness
of past victories.

For them there is
no escape from
that uniquely Scottish condition:


In 5 years time it will be the 500th anniversary of Flodden.

Watch this space

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Les Vacances sont sur nous

We had 20mm of rain in about 30 minutes this morning and the area on the BBC Weather Warning Map dedicated to Scottish Borders Really Bad Weather; Venture Out at your Peril and don't bring your car was bright red. Disruption!

Then the workmen arrived to carry on the extension exercise and the rain stopped. The BBC map turned its normal shade of green and the terror stricken service-as the Goons used to call it-has transfered the warnings to the south with Severe Gales.

Blogging may soon be thin on the ground. Nothing to do with the suddenly clement weather but because, come Friday, we are off to Brittany, La France for a short holiday en famille Although the BBC is not good at forrin weather it agrees with Meteo that the Borders will remain slightly warmer than Beg-Meil, Fousenant where we are taking a cottage pour la semaine prochaine. The owner, English ex pat has told us that the village has an internet connection a sort of spot chaud I assume but as we are 2 miles from the village I doubt if we will get connected. Worry not I will store some digital images of the grand children, the rocky beach, the entente cordiale and the empties and upload them on return to Duns.

If we are spared of course.

And its a long trail awinding:-car to Plymouth, Ferry to Roscoff and a two hour midnight dash to Beg Meil with TomTom in charge.

(The caption on this flickr image-thanks christiwild-is Brittany Coast in Winter. I suspect, apt)

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

IN the Pink?

It was wet so went to IKEA as one does and found that tout Embra had done the same. End of summer hols and a city heaving with the alien Festihooligans had driven mostly young families into the safe smug Swedish ambiance-roll mop herrings, blokbrot, clear you own lunch tray and all. Having allocated our statutory £67.75 we were rushing to the checkout attempting to beat the most heavily laden trolley I have ever seen, including Sir Morrisons at 1539 on Sundays, when were impeded by a badly parked one mostly containing a 5 year old boy and his sweet companion, a tiny vision in pink. 18 months top. The wife brushed against the lad as she was trying to move the trolley a few inches out of the way-'You are no my mum' said he indignantly 'No. I am just trying to move you a wee bit. But I am glad to see you looking after your baby sister so nicely' ' I haven't a baby sister I have a......... ( Thought depleted) baby brother' At that point the mother returned and much as I would have liked to confirm the gender of the pink 'un the heavily laden trolley was now ahead of us and there was no time to satisfy idle curiosity if we were to get through checkout by closing time.

So was the wee pinkie a boy avoiding gender stereotype? A changling? A girl but not a sister? A girl and a sister, but the brother was in denial? Now I am back in Duns wondering how we managed to leave IKEA without anything that requires assembly. I am not sure I care very much.

(But, hold on, if the lad was right and he had a baby brother and he wasn't in pink, nor in the Trolley-where was he? Home alone? Asleep in the car? Forgotten some place Worrying that.)

Thankyou Ogden of Flickr for this aerial image of the Ikea store in Embra. As he suggests it has arrived flat packed-and awaits assembly!

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Monday, August 11, 2008

SIR, - For the umpteenth time our mean-minded killjoy government has rejected Sir Alan Beith’s (and everyone else’s) call for dualling the A1 throughout Northumberland; Minister Tom Harris (who?) lists four spurious criteria for doing nothing about it.
The fifth criterion, of course, is that the territory through which the A1 runs in its semi-rural state includes Berwickshire and nowhere in this area is represented by New Labour.
It is unfair that despite almost 35 years service Sir Alan is not rewarded in the same way as 28 years service by another MP/MSP with almost all the A1 in East Lothian being dualled - something to do with red being preferred to yellow maybe

is this weeks star letter in the Berwickshire News

Joy apparently equates with the ability to speed through Northumberland!With great respect to the writer (name available for the curious) I an not sure how Sir A Beith, a MP for a (still) English constituency has any standing in rural Berwickshire matters? Its good to see the reference to the Labour MP later MSP for East Lothian who was 'rewarded,says the writer, for years of devoted committment to the party by being awarded the 'duelling' of those parts of the A1 which went through his constituency. Alert bloggees will recognise this paragon to be the Laird, only recently retired from East Lothian after what amounted to Peerless service (Bad Pun Intended) It should be remembered that before going to EL the Laird was MP slightly closer home-including 'rural Berwickshire' but when the constituency was split in two he skedaddled up North to avoid having to take on the Lib Dems. Wisely as it proved. But while there as the incumbent MP, the A1 remained resolutely unduelled-Red being as useless as Yellow.

It seems

(The image is of a Scottish Road. Probably not the A! but could well be in 'rural Berwickshire')

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

If Huttonian has a word of criticism about Scotland's finest Palladian mansion it is to do with the extraordinarily indecisive notices which abound. We have posted about this before with particular regard to the warning about wheelchair access to the river. 'it is thought unsuitable' to take your chair down over twenty steep steps in several stony greasy flights. Why not, just, 'Unsuitable for Wheelchairs' But the management goes on its gentle, caring sweet way, behaviour stubbornly unmodified. A new one is the neat little advisory in the tea rooms-converted stables.(also above) 'Please consider' may well fall on deaf ears as it were Not even suitable for a manger in Bethlehem with a lot of inconsiderate, or three at least Wise Men just around the corner, with no track record of regard for breast feeding mums roughing it in stables. I would prefer ' Reserved for Nursing Mothers' or if you want to preserve the convoluted courtesies

' If you are not a nursing mother.Consider P*****g Off. Thankyou'


Saturday, August 09, 2008
Things to do in Hutton before you die (or move to Duns)

If you have an idle thirty seconds, and who has these days I suggest you go here.

Did you know there was so much to do within 15 miles of Hutton? Did you know of the town of Sunwick? (Famous, apparently, for 'Lasses for Sale' Fishwick is there, of course, but no mention of traffic problems.

If I had found this website earlier we would have moved


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Spitall was where it was all at yesterday on the one nice day we have had sandwiched between what feels like weeks of rain. It has poured since we left dry old Hutton and certainly can no longer boast about living in the driest part of the UK. Anyhow Spitall was all zephyrs, sun and only a light fleece necessary. It was the first day of the Spitall Festival-a weekend of riotous fun including a Continental Market. Apart from the German Lager,Polish pastries, 87 varieties of saucisson and French cheeses sold by a German hot foot off the Newcastle Ferry the emphasis was on carved animals from the presentable via the kitsch to the grotesque. Not selling like hot cakes-although the hot cakes were, despite being Fair Trade and prolific-if you could avoid Spitall's notorious dog droppings you were likely to be entangled with wooden ducks and the odd Iguana or Monitor Lizard-and the even odder giraffe which hard not clearly been anywhere near Africa. I have seen this lot before-in the Christmas Market at La Defense in Paris. They were not selling there either so Spitall may have been something of a Derniere Chance Salon.

If you could tear yourself away from this wooden Disneyland sur Spit you had the beach as the alternative attraction. Nicer than usual as the dog crap was mostly covered up by the flotsam and jetsam brought down the Tweed by the recent floods. So mild was it that some people were nearly swimming despite the rather dirty looking foam fed by silt from the Berwickshire rivers-a Brown Flag beach on this occasion-being hurled onto the strand by some impressive rollers. Good for surfing. But you would need your wellies.

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Friday, August 08, 2008
TRAINSPOTTING. Great Expectations*

A bloggee has just handed me a Trainspotters Notebook for Reston Station. Its blank.

Likely to remain so.

But its a start.

So any one interested.

Order your anorak now

( * Call for scripts by Hutton Think Tank. Media Section)

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Distant Drums

It seems more and more drivers in these parts rely on new fangled technology for finding their way around the maze of roads in the Merse. One White Van Man delivering something for the Old Manse commented with regard to the distinction between a***s and e****s that he would be entirely 'up a gum tree without a paddle' (some of his best friends were Australians)if he was ever without his beloved TomTom. But it is around here that the TomTom-and Huttonian has one-have an Achilles Heel. Programme in Hutton to Embra by the clever route and you will be directed to Hutton Castle and then ordered by the bossy lady to turn right -on the most direct route to Chirnside and all stations beyond. And the reverse applies-coming from the A1 heading for Hutton Post Office a number of Securicor Vans have also been sent on this short cut. What they have in common is the Bluestane Ford. A gentle little water splash for much of the time but on days like yesterday swept by a raging torrent capable of taking WVM, Van, Huttonians Good Book Guide books, Uncle Tom Cobley and all the most direct route to the sea. The images speak for themselves-admittedly extreme conditions after three days or rain but even with much less precipitation the ford can be dangerously impassable for the average vehicle.

But TomTom does not know that.

And occasionally the highheidyins up river let water out of the Whiteadder Dam to relieve the pressure

And TomTom does not know that either.

Lets leave it to Chicken Licken

(The spates in the Whiteadder and Blackadder yesterday were quite spectacular and some of it can be seen here)

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Thursday, August 07, 2008


Nothing much seems to have changed on the 'reopening' of Reston Station since we moved to the Borders over 11 years ago. The first house we looked (rather a crummy one but dirt cheap) was in Reston and the selling point was that the station was to open 'imminently' Even if no ham sandwich bar was on offer. Since then it has been a photo opportunity for a number of local politicians wanting to ride a (locally) popular bandwagon The latest jaunt by the highheidyins of RAGES (Rail Action Group Eastern Scotland) plus the MSP- John 'Photo-op' Lamont and more promisingly the Scottish Transport Minister, who proudly announced that this was his first visit to Berwickshire.This historic event is fully covered in the e-Berwickshire-front page in the hard copy as well in the absence of a cute -collie-eats-lamb story.

All the usual warm words were said about how nice it would be for Reston and East Berwickshire to have its own station-saving driving all of 12 miles into Berwick or a bit more to Dunbar. And surprisingly the SNP minister made no reference to the idea of having Scotland's Immigration and Passport control next to the Sandwich Bar on the up platform (17) But once the well wishers and publicity seekers had been chauffeured away the whole glittering vision boils down to the Berwickshire's own headline:


You can say that again.

So I will


(The image is an artist's impression of platform 17 at Reston Station. The train awaits immigration clearance-thanks to Hutton Think Tank Vision and Media section)

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008


There Must be a BeTter Way?

0800800152, 01914954600, 084560056156, 08003289642 0800800150

These are some of the numbers you need to telephone if you want to cancel any thing installed by BT.

Using the Home Moving Help Line Huttonian asked for his land line account to be cancelled from 21 July, his broadband to be transferred to the small house in Duns and his ISDN one to be cut off as well. No problem-its just a click of a mouse in Bangalore.

From being sent e-mailed bills for my paperless on line direct debit save the environment from the Amazon Rain Forest account I discovered:
(a) My broadband although transferred to the shid was still active in Hutton, and in my name as well as the new owner.
(b) ISDN still active although the PC had long since gone.

(c) I was being billed for both.Three months in advance.

(d) My on line saving the Rain Forest paperless, guilt-free accounts for my cancelled services were still active, billing and presumably cooing, away. I could not turn them off on line and was advised to ring a number-yes one of those above. My bank could not cancel the standing orders as there was no BT identification number to zap.

3 hours later having tried every choice on the multiple choice menu afore mentioned help lines (another oxymoron if there ever was one) I had managed to get a cancellation number for the ISDN line; a process complicated by the fact that ISDN is a business line even in a private residence used for purely domestic purposes. An ISDN for a PC which is not part of a business set up is a an unknown concept in both Newcastle (0191) or Bangalore (0800-make up the rest.)Armed with my cancellation code I went into Billing. They were not impressed-sorry can't touch a business account-and Business Billing 'But you say you are not a business Sir?. Too difficult try this 'Beyond Help number 0800...... or if that fails this barking mad one in Newcastle 0191 etc etc

I think for my sanity I must get hold of my bank and cancel every single standing order I have.

Sorry Sanctuary for Sick Donkeys-some times the innocent have to suffer to frustrate the guilty

(The image is of BT vans loaded with paperless ISDN bills ready to rush off to Amazonia for some good environmental reason-0800 800 150 appropriate option to laern more)

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008
  Extension Day One

Extension Day One
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
The scene at the end of day one. Impressive progress for two blokes especially carrying loads of stuff up the gangplank, Day two: 1030. One guy turned up at 0830. No show by anyone else and there is yet more heavy material to be lugged up on to the site. Allegedly the foreman is on his way...

The man already here is now starting to read his paper all over again

Well it did start yesterday......
Monday, August 04, 2008
Bank Holiday. Banks Open Shock

After 11 years in the Borders, Huttonian (aka the-reluctant-Dinger)* still cannot fathom out Scottish Bank Holidays. Take Hutton: the postie came from Ber-Wick (england) and stayed away on English Bank Holidays. He sometimes also stayed away on Scottish ones as well. But Duns is well into Scotland; it glories in being in purely Scottish TD11. Today is a Bank Holiday in Scotland according to the official Bank Holiday website. The postie did not come; she was no doubt having a nice long lie in and so she might. The two nice cafes, frothy coffee and scones, were closed. But both banks were well functioning. Doors wide open: Radio Three discretely backgrounding (Royal Bank of S)and Radio one more apparent (Bank of S) . The website throws some light Its too complicated for Scottish Banking Computers to have separate hols so they cravenly fall in with their southern colleagues; there's English fiscal imperialism for you. And the RBS owns NatWest for goodness sake. So a Bank Holiday is a Bank Holiday except when its a Scottish Bank Holiday and the Scottish Post Offices have more laid back computer systems so they can take the day off.

Actually its not always like that. I came last year to Duns on a Scottish Bank Holiday. The Banks were very closed. Radios switched off. I returned on an English Bank Holiday and they were still/again closed. Best of both worlds then, but no more apparently

(* reluctance not related to being in Duns but to leaving Hutton-is that clear?)

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What a wonderful sight to see over the Very Berry Muesli (Thankyou Green Shop) The building of the extension at last under way. Stuff being painstakingly wheeled up the improvised ramp to the site on top of the old oven. And the sound of drilling is heard in the land. Moreover an apology. It was not the builders who filled up the summer house and buggered off-but the nice young joiners who futsh &bo. The did it, it seems, just as the builders were originally commissioning the site. I did wonder what the workmen were doing with splintered wood and plasterboard.

As for the wood burning stove, apparently last spare part is 'expected today'.

On the move?

And on a Bank Holiday as well

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Sunday, August 03, 2008
Neighbours Revisited

Huttonian gets it wrong sometimes and he has got this one wrong big time. But judging from, incredible as it may seem, that the application to build 4 new houses at Hutton Castle Barns, withdrawn after strong objections to the original proposal, has been lobbed in again. I had told one of the previous objectors that I was confident that the idea was dead. Wrong.Very.

The application is identical in every way to the original one. Not a nod towards the comments made before many of them based on good planning objections. Not even an attempt to address the difficult problem of access. The application is slightly economical with the actualite in that it refers to the Roads Officer having no difficulty with the issue of access-indeed 'supports the proposal': through the existing entrance to the M Farm. A bloggee with a better memory than mine (many of them around) has recalled that the Roads Department said that they had no issue of principle over the building of the 4 houses but were concerned about the access. But, and here's the rub-a reapplication of an unamended proposal (within a year)is free! So lob it back boys and keep your cash under the bed. Otherwise the timing is extraordinary-building now ! When you see all the properties for sale around the area in the midst of a serious recession it seems silly to add to the over plentiful stock.

I doubt if it will go through.I hope not to be wrong this time. The objections* made earlier will be renewed in spades including a well researched comment by the Hutton and Paxton Community Council. I had heard that the original application was likely to fail-hence its withdrawal. And the whole sorry business arises from a total lack of communication and consultation between neighbours. It would have made sense for the Ms to have crossed the road to discuss with the people most closely effected how their plans might be made more acceptable rather than proceeding by formal 'neighbour notification' and the Council Website. Unfriendly or what?

The Council website invites comments.

Go to it.

(* Indeed. Already a neighbour has written covering the ground rather well especially on the lack of consultation and access.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008
TD ious

As Huttonian, in my former narrow sense, I applaud our MP's efforts to get Royal Mail to see sense over post codes. The article taken from the latest Berwickshire outlines a running sore which Royal Mail could out right with a flick of a mouse

BERWICKSHIRE MP Michael Moore has condemned Royal Mail's refusal to engage in the process of finding a solution to the problem of postal addresses for some residents of Berwickshire, which puts them in Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Mr Moore has been working on behalf of residents of Foulden, Hutton, Paxton, Lamberton and Mordington, who are concerned that their postal addresses effectively place them in England.
One villager contacted Mr Moore to raise concerns about the impact this was having when he was travelling abroad and completing immigration paperwork*. Problems are also being caused by confusion among prospective house buyers.
Mr Moore has criticised the postal address database used by Royal Mail and has requested that they investigate the issue fully. However, in a recent letter to Mr Moore, Royal Mail refused to conduct an investigation and stated that, "there is little to be gained from further dialogue".
Mr Moore has condemned Royal Mail's approach to the problem.
He said: "In my ten years of work as a Member of Parliament, I have to say that it is extremely rare to come across a company or organisation that adopts such a dogmatic stance to an issue that I have raised on behalf of my constituents.
"In correspondence with me, Royal Mail effectively admitted that there is a serious problem with their database, but rejected any sense of responsibility for sorting it out. I am frankly shocked at their attitude and at their refusal to engage in any sort of meaningful dialogue in the pursuit of a satisfactory solution.
"They are in danger of showing contempt for their own customers."

The problem is that the post code TS15 covers 5 settlements in Berwickshire, chunks of Nothumberland and Ber Wick itself. As reported in previous posts this can cause difficulty . Not only for white van men thinking they are delivering stuff in England and are not permitted under their franchise to do so but also for humble householders or car owners in the Five Settlements seeking insurance and having to pay premiums appropriate for swinging rumbustious Berwick rather than peaceful Berwickshire. I was once accosted in the comfort of my own downstairs loo by 6 tweedy ladies soliciting votes (by banging on the window) for the Tory candidate for North Nortumberland. They withdrew discomfited when they heard that they had crossed the border: 'OH My goodness!' 'Isn't Scotland so like England?' 'What ever next?' The click of a mouse making the Scottish portions of TD15 into an unallocated TD16 is all that is required.
But the Royal Mail just can't be bothered to even discuss the matter. Further dialogue is out not that there was much of one in the first place.

* I wonder which forrin Immigration official gives a half eaten fig as to whether the intending visitor comes from Mordington (Scotland) or Morpeth (Northumberland)unless it is an Australian of Scottish Convict descent intent on keeping out all Pommies.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Holding back the Concrete Mixers

A bloggee who has been at the cutting edge of development in the countryside has sent Huttonian this extract from the Taylor Review whose sentiments I am confident he shares:
The planning process has to become an engine of regeneration or we face a future of rural decline. Over-zealous or ill-thought through restriction of development has held back rural economies and made rural homes increasingly unaffordable. The right balance of housing and employment opportunities are crucial. We need a can-do system that asks the question of each development proposal “how will this development add to or diminish the sustainability of this community” and includes social, economic and environmental factors in the answer.

Living working countrysideThe Taylor Review of Rural Economy and Affordable Housing

I am not sure how the building on green field sites of, say,McMansions-to pluck an example out of the ether, reverses rural decline; If they were destined for thrusting entrepreneurs investing all in the local community, creating employment and patronising local institutions then well and good. But I fear its more likely to be snapped up by either wealthy retirees or well heeled business blokes working in Embra or Newcastle who will neither 'patronise' the local pub nor get themselves involved in the community, Whist in Hutton Village Hall, I don't think so. And all this desirable, basically suburban, property at (well used to be)sky high prices makes housing for local people, in the words of Taylor ' increasingly unaffordable'

But it is all rather academic. With property prices falling and mortgages increasingly unobtainable the day of big developments-or even the odd couple of bijou villas has gone for the moment. So its back to extensions, double garages-house improvemnents rather than moves. And in some cases the term 'improvement' is bit of a misnomer. The '39 Steps' in one property in down town Hutton. Would look good in the Costa Del Developpa' But in the Merse?

Oh Dear

(These Mc Mansions, seen above, are not on the Tweed but they could be. Thank God for the timely recession)

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