Musings from the Merse
Friday, October 31, 2008
Jim (Probably won't) Fix It

A regular Bloggee reports as follows:

Big Jim was discussing on Radio Borders this morning, the problems we have in our region for the funding of affordable housing. The main problem he sees is our "rurality"!

Big Jim is, as regulars will know,one of the three East Berwickshire's local councillors, a regular attendee at the meetings of the Hutton and Paxton Community Council where he was supposed to keep us informed of the bigger picture in the Borders' scheme of things. Willing: certainly, verbose:definitely, informative: rarely. Clear: Well put it this way,

he suffered from verbal rurality. Or as a great Borders Philosopher, a friend of Duns Scrotus, once put it :

Vos animadverto nemus pro nemus

: You can't see the trees for the trees'

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Snow/Ice/Hail has been sent early to Duns this year and we awoke to a snowy-or at least slushy hail, reconstituted as snow, infested garden. Huttonian struggled along treacherous pavements for his early fix-the Grudian. He just managed to beat someone to the queue whom I have provisionally identified as the 'Town Bore' with his handful of techie periodicals, ball point pens, file covers and two packets of crisps . The Newsagent unwisely commented that the weather was unusually cold for late October:

'Unusual for Late October?' said the PITB' I mind when it was really cold-don't call this cold*-much earlier than 30 October. It must have been 1963, no, I tell a lie, 1964, when Jock Spangle was the Reiver, or was it Ken McSprong- gone now, both of them. No they were actually in Greenlaw come to think of it Some one else was Reiver here. Or perhaps not. Long time ago. Anyhow we had heavy snow in September, it may have been August, proper perishing it was. I mind saying to Amy-and this was long before the Global Warming rubbish-global freezing if you ask me-but would Amy listen...

I closed the door gently on him. And have not been back since in case he is

still there.

*The third pullover probably put on by mistake

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Thursday, October 30, 2008


I wonder from looking at Edwin Thomson's website here if dramatic change is coming to the Fishwick peri-urban region? Can it be that Farmer C is on the move? The mastermind behind the Fishwick Bypass and the progenitor of the Tweed side Mc Mansions is really deserting us? I hope not. This blog will be all the poorer for it.

So if you have £1.7 million looking for a home, or indeed a series of homes, hurry; bids must be in by 7 November. And if you modestly just go for one plot, rather than the full Monty you can build something like the tasteful bijou pad as illustrated above.

But surely, says the still small voice of common sense: Farmer C cannot be putting his toe in such frigid waters, chilled further by the Credit Crunch. It may just be a trial balloon. A sort of 'cry for help' in Shrink-Speak.

Come on potential purchasers, keep your hands in your pockets. Don't let Farmer C go

Fishwick needs him

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WE Have (a bit) more Extension

Window in. So we can start to imagine using the bedroom for the Christmas holidays. 3 daughters, various spouses, 4 children.

Dream on.

What did Wellington say about Waterloo?

A Damn Close Run Thing

And he never planned a family Christmas in Duns
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Berwick or Bus

Huttonians are familiar with the 32 Bus from Hutton to Golden Square Berwick via Paxton(Where? New Blog Ed)and Paxton House -in the season. I have to admit I only used it a couple of times in 11 years in the village; inconvenient times, slow and usually empty. No community singing and discouraged to chat to the driver. Duns is better served with the 60 Galashiels. Earlston, Duns, Chirnside and Berwick and in conjunction with the 260 (Duns to Tweedmouth taking in Sir Morrisons) there is a service from 0623 to 1830 almost every hour with the last bus on Weekdays returning to Duns at 2022 and a dangerously past your bedtime, 2210 on Saturdays. The Hutton bus dies at about 4pm and takes Sunday off completely.

What a service I thought and asked at the Newsagents for the latest timetable. Not available; try the Library. 'How long does it take'? I asked. 'Haven't a clue. Never use it' At that moment the so called Rail Connection bus passed through the square, Berwick bound from Gala.

It was empty.

No change from the Number 32 then.

But if you are interested it takes 31 minutes to Berwick Station.

And 32 minutes back.

Huttonian will be trying it tomorrow, Berwick to Duns. And will report further.

If I am spared

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Crunch? On Expensive gravel

Huttonian generally starts the day with a glance at the FT.Com page-monitoring his increasingly valueless collection of beautifully engraved share certificates. This mornings
carries the usual doom and gloom about the Pound falling further and the FTSE 100 a mass of red-not a single blue this morning. With financiers wringing hands, jumping out of windows or just going on sick leave and with the man on the Clapham Omnibus/flexibus looking for room under his mattress for his remaining savings who on earth does Land Rover hope will buy their latest, top of the range Range Rover as advertised on their web page? A hedge against inflation? An alternative investment? Or an ill timed jest by their marketing department.

Take your pick

Although I have to say there are a number of newish Range Rovers evident around here although I get the impression that the drivers are shabbier than they used to be. So some sacrifices are being made-belts abandoned rather than tightened perhaps?

Just revisiting that page I see that the posh ad for the Chelsea Tractors has gone.
Instead Land Rover is advertising for 'financial experts' Must be a lot of those suddenly surplus to the City's requirements at the moment. To encourage new crew for a buoyant ship the ad ends with :

'The future’s never looked better'.

Oh Goodie

(The image is of a Range Rover not often seen around here-but I have not been to the Fishwick Bypass recently so there could be one or two of these models parked outside the McMansions)

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

What Borders?

If you go here Yes BBC Scotland-local news, you might expect to find something going on in the Borders? Borders? Where's they? Put 'Borders' or to be dangerously specific 'Scottish Borders' into the regional search engine on that page, what do you get? Nothing-sorry can't find you.

Yes, if you look closely at the choice of regions there is South Scotland. So something sometimes happens in South Scotland-but the Borders, shown separately in the dinky wee map- is a news free region. 'Happy is the country which has no history' somebody once said. So to have no news is surely blissfully happy. Or just

pig ignorant.

(the image, for the benefit of BBC Scotland, is of the Borders. As you can see its all downhill from there)

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Who will Guard the Guardians Themselves?

Although I know there are a number of Grudian readers who patronise either Mr Finnie or Mr Nairn I have not been able to identify who they are. One caring, kindly looking, bearded and metaphorically sandaled gentleman clutching some Fair Trade Coffee and an Eco Bag, just the profile of your average GR was ahead of me in the queue at Nairns recently but bought two copies of the Sun, his and hers, I assumed- but on reflection perhaps they were both for her-the brash,brazen, faux blonde, Tory chain smoking floozy he lets his spare room to?

But today, Bingo! A Guardian Reader and one in a spot of bother. An aggressive, tweed jacketed, cavalry twilled green wellied red faced rural type came rushing out of Finnies, Guardian in hand, Discovery double parked. Unwisely, given the BBC Blether Centre's 70mph wind whistling up South Street, he momentarily left his Saturday inflated paper on top of the car while he fumbled for keys. Momentarily is right. A nano second later the square was full of the Grudian and its various weekend pull out and recycle sections. Willing helpers, including Huttonian rushed around, retrieving bits of the paper some from afar away as HBOS- The now apoplectic RTGR, un grand homme sans merci ( TR: a self important bloke who never says thank you)riffled through the various bedraggled sections as they were handed to him-'this is no flipping good or words to that effect-no flipping Sports Section-thats all I buy the flipping paper for. Tossed the rest of the Gerdian away, mounted his Landrover and whizzed off.

If you hurry you may yet get most of a Greddian, free of charge, some miles West of Duns.Not the Sports Section, that turned up just past RBS and was snapped up by a passing yappy dog, which chewed part of it and peed

on the rest.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Last Post

The period of farcical 'consultation' is over and we have the official confirmation: Hutton Post Office is to close and will be replaced by a 'mobile outreach service' (Don't bother us with facts, any inconvenience is regretted, you know it makes sense). Another community institution is to go. I must say that when we had the post office in the Old Manse, paying out the pensions over the kitchen table amongst the remains of breakfast ( A £20 note with a couple of cornflakes attached is still legal tender, we were assured) I did wonder how long the blue suited accountants would tolerate such an anachronism. I can vividly remember the official gabbling into his mobile when he had come to 'measure up' the kitchen for the computer (replacing the ledger, grocery scales and hand date stamp with the 00 of 2000 missing- our own millennium bug) ' Yes its a Post Office-in a Kitchen!.On the Table, for crying out aloud...No bullet proof screen!...no counter...no queuing strip.....two mornings a week..never more than 15 customers on Mondays..and three on Thursdays... Pensioners.. Yes they actually want to see their money!quite incredible. Quaint really'

And the great battle we had over asking the techies to put the computer on a trolley so it could be wheeled away after 'office hours' to give us back some living space. PO regulations allowed us only 18 inches of 'computer flexibility' (for 'technical reasons') so we had to live around it.

Once the Post Office was sited in the Village Hall it was less basic, could offer more services and was more convenient, especially for the elderly no longer having to trek up the muddy, potholed Kirk Lane. But wherever it was it remained a village centre where pensioners could meet friends, chat and take their time over small transactions (rarely involving the purchase of First Class Stamps)Now it will be (from the New Year) either hanging around for the 'mobile outreach'-12 to 1 Mondays and Fridays-dinner time so how thoughtful, or going 7 miles into Berwick to queue at length and having in many cases relying on some one else to take you in; the bus service being so limited.

Any Inconvenience Regretted?

I doubt it.

(The image is of the Old Manse, Post Office included-on the other side)

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Male Nude on Page Three Shock

It had to reach the Borders sometime-the fashion of putting together a charity calender with nude images. Not unclothed or even shorn sheep however in this case but naked males from the 'ancient capital' of Berwickshire: Greenlaw. Given the 'celebration' of the male body, calling the calender 'Tools of the Trade' is un peu risque, making a point one might say (npi) Actually no bits are displayed-its all very tasteful' with in the case of April Tool, a local farmer's pps hidden behind a strategically placed Collie-appropriately enough this saucy image is on Page Three. The picture above taken from the On Line Berwickshire-read here

If the Berwickshire continues to publish these type of daring images it may do wonders for its circulation, becoming for many people

The Organ of Choice.

As it were

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Getting an Orr in

I am sure we all wish Janie Orr the best of luck in her chosen career as a politician-here I am heavily dependent on a Berwickshire News article which you can share here She says that she is following in her mother's footsteps and whilst reiterating our best wishes we sincerely hope she has more success than her indefatigable mater who must be one of the most unsuccessful politicians in the Borders. Yet to win anything in any election at any level and I doubt her chances of doing any better as the SNP candidate for Westminster -presumably standing when Mr Brown throws in the towel.

Janie is quoted as saying "I got interested in politics through my mum" Well she certainly started with the basics when her mum was out canvassing: the Orr children handed out the bumph while the candidate sat in her car. Or so my Paxton friends tell me. She certainly never made it to the top of Kirk Lane in Hutton but I did get her handouts-child delivered. Perhaps Mrs O felt that the locals knew her well so why bother to put in a personal appearance and press the flesh. Here she was right enough: she failed to get in against much less familiar opponents.

Well here is the junior Orr in a parliament already. A first for the family. A youth assembly is better than none. The article fails to mention her party label. ff she is not joining the SNP, well done Janie.

You deserve to go far.

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Dun Bloggin?

A fellow Borders Blogger has folded up his tent, dismantled his camp bed, returned his dusty Olivetti to its case and has dedicated the rest of his life to good works, as the 'common round, the daily task ( ie post) is more than we should really ask'*

He has apparently found it increasingly difficult to find suitable material in the region to meet his self imposed quota.

Huttonian knows the feeling well. Especially after leaving


* attrib to 'Blogger McFee' from his 15th Century Monologue 'Rants, Rural Rides and Reivers'

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kelso Dings Duns

'Very poor shopping' said the man in the jersey shop in Kelso referring to Duns. We defended our new home with its bakeries, butchers, veggie shop....'all food. Typical' said the mijs-here we can get anything'

It's true Kelso is proper market town with a very good shoe shop, excellent clothes emporia, a well stocked book shop even a WH Smut and some decent hotels. It has the air of a French provincial town and its cobbles lend it a touch of class which has eluded Duns. So does the fearsome Traffic Warden, quick on the ticket, probably a close friend of the fiend that terrorises Newcastle, Norn Iron.

The mijs had abandoned Duns for the credit crunch. 'Just wait until those bunch of Old Etonians get in! We will even want that loser Brown back.' No it had not effected him. People will always need a nice Cashmere jersey.Even with no change from a hundred pound note.

'I am sure Mr Cameron wears Cashmere' I suggested-'gets them down south doesn't he from some crap Old Etonian 'Gents Outfitter'

No good to me.

Or to Kelso

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Borders not Bordellos?

The earnest young Lithuanian(?) was asking the newsagent,as I waited for the Gerdian to be dug out from under the counter, what are 'Borders Tarts' Apparently they are being advertised in Duns. 'Its a local delicacy' he was told. 'Oh something you can eat?' said the Lith' in his immaculate English.

And turned away.
Sadly, I thought

Even if he did not have this quite in mind the above light morsel( Image :Thankyou Hamburger Helper from Flickr) might be some consolation

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Sunday, October 19, 2008
Net Loss

Huttonian enjoyed this letter to the Berwick Advertiser-the town cousin to the Berwickshire yokel version.

"SIR,-As I hope to relocate to the area, last Saturday I completed a 720-mile round trip drive to take a four-hour look at Berwick.
An enchanting town in beautiful surroundings, full of friendly and helpful folk with a delightful mixture of Scottish and geordie accidents, uplifting pastel shade buildings here and there, interesting old architecture, giving the whole place a solid feel, together with an altogether well scrubbed look to the town.
The main amenities are all within easy walking distance of each other and to cap it all, riverside tranquility plus a beach.
However, I was all but poleaxed to discover no internet cafes whatsoever and, worse, the sole library, which does have computer facilities, not only closes on Saturday afternoons but for the entire day on Thursdays.
Hello - it’s the 21st century. I’m used to, and need, access seven days a week.
It was with growing incredulity that I studied the facts via the library’s window notice. It must have been the glazed look to my eyes which troubled a passing old lady, because sensing there was something amiss, she dived into her handbag and offered me some smelling salts.
I declined her kindness, but fully understand what prompted the gesture.
Still, at least you have electricity"

What a child of the 21st century. No internet access, no life worth living. And I wonder which of the southron public libaries and internet cafes he patronises are open 24 hours a day? Presumably if he does grace Berwick with a permenant presence he will bring his computer and get a internet connection in the comfort of his own bedroom. No need to seek out the libary hotspot ar 2am.

Btw I am intrigued to his reference to the 'Scottish and Geordie accidents'. Probably a lot of them walking around.

Something to do with the chemist shops not being able to offer a wide selection of condoms 24/7 in so last century Berwick?

Better keep his leg under until the shops open.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bog Standard

Hutton's size hardly justified a public park although there was some talk of turning Farmer H's field, opposite the Kirk into a village green-although there was a possible Faustian bargain involving a housing development at the top of the field along the Hutton Castle road. This might have gone ahead had the new village hall been sited in that field as was once mooted. Paxton, by contrast, has a very pleasing if miniscule Village Green, the result of a local (incomers mostly)initiative. After some sullen opposition mostly from the 'Ay Bees' it is now an accepted part of Village life.

But Duns, the County Town, has a Park. (The 'P' is capital but the loos are closed)The autumnal scene is pleasing enough. But if you look closely at the image (click to enlarge) you will see a slightly less pleasing water feature. Not so much a puddle as a lake and the whole surrounding area is awash after rain and rarely dries out. Why on earth the town fathers built a public facility on this Bog (Merse equals Marsh around here)history does not(apparently) relate and certainly no attempt seems to have been made to improve the drainage, or better still, take advantage of the Bography to put in a large pond. Moreover the minimalist children's playground is pathetically endowed and the only public art is a a rather camp Duns Scrotus.

Building on bogs seems to be a local obsession and one can only hope that the new (yet to be opened) Berwickshire High School does not sink deep into the marsh on which it has been constructed.

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Friday, October 17, 2008
Ex Africa Semper aliquid novi?

Coming back, as one does, musing about the credit crunch and Private Medicine, in an Embra taxi, Huttonian kept half an eye open for the Doyen of the Mendicant Corps of Princes Street and his wee dog, and both ears tuned in in the general direction of the Mendicant Piper. Then just where the D of the MC usually has his pitch I came across a new comer to the play and spare some change scene. An African drummer*, or so it seemed, in full beat-the image is taken from the cab, so apologies for quality. As far as I could see, en passant, his 'begging bowl' was well specied. And so powerful was his sound the mendicant piper had been driven from his usual perch and no sign of any other competition for the generosity of the few remaining Japanese tourists

* I am no expert on exotic music. The chap concerned may well hail from other foreign parts but the rythym was certainly 'African' And of course, given the multi ethnicity of the Borders he may well have been a Pail Merk.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Faffing all the way from the bank

Scottish Borders Council Highheidyins have been forced to admit (says todays Berwickshire) that they have invested £10m in two collapsed Icelandic Banks-the quaintly named Landsbanki and the Heritable. This admission came a few days after the publication of a self congratulatory report praising SBC's 'financial effectiveness' and contrasting this good husbandry with less competent mangement of 'our peers'.

Npw it is said that these investment were a result of 'active management' -ie 'visionary and pro-active' and had it not happened the SBC's coffers would not have benefitted from the £244,000 high interest earned. No one has yet mentioned amongst the financial gurus in St Boswells that if this investment had been put in a local institution- say HBOS to hazard a wild guess, yes, they would have earned less interest but would still have the £10 million. But that is not visionary, nor pro-active, merely prudent and sensible.

The director of Corporate Resources proudly claims that the SBC does not have a liquidity problem. So that is alright then. Don't really need the dosh. And the usually sensible Mr Cook, a Berwickshire Councillor, defending the investments dismissed 'claims by some that warnings were given about the Icelandic banks' If they had been 'we would had that reported back to us'

Again to quote Mr Cook

: 'Local authorities have a duty to make any investment secure and get the best return on it'

Did he say 'secure'?

Come on the Borders Party. Get your teeth into this one

(The image, from Flickr, is a nice Icelandic rural scene. One hopes that the mortgages on these properties are secure. HBOS perhaps)

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Skipped in the Loo?

Northerners are dirtier than Suthron folk is the result of a recent survey which you can read here 'Faecal' matter is commoner on hands the further north you go, apparently. I suppose with bath tubs full of coal and washbasins with fire lighters Northerners have no where easily accessible for cleaning up after going to the loo.

The survey, you will note, does not apply to Scotland. Do hands magically self clean as you cross the border or is the northern dirtier tendency accentuated. Inverness folk, faecally challenged more than most? We must await the result of a new survey to be sure.

I mentioned this survey to a Dinger-of wide experience and apparently clean hands. 'Glimpse of the bluidy obvious' He said. ' Posteriors* down south are not usually cleaned by hand. Have you noticed what long tongues most Londoners have?'

In the meanwhile I suggest you play safe. If you are introduced someone in Newcastle Central Station follow Japanese etiquette and bow politely, keeping your hands to yourself. Or if you happen to know the person (and he or she is from continental Europe) a kiss on both cheeks might suffice-northern cheeks that is, not those further down.

* he used a more vulgar form.

(The image is of Newcastle Central Station. No one is shaking hands. I wonder why)

PS It is apparently UN hand washing day Not in Duns however. We have clean hands and clear consciences, thankyou very much

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A bloggee helping with a bit of complicated DIY or in our case GAFTDI popped out to the local branch of a Borders wide hardware shop to get screws for the curtain rail in the small house in Duns.

Door locked but a small message :


(Signed Joe)

A visiting Eastern European with a PH.D in English Literature might find this a bit puzzling. How many Mos in a minute? How many Jiffies in an hour? (Do Time Travellers carry Jiffy Bags? Discuss)

But it is a part of slow moving Borders life. Manana? Insh'allah Bukra? No we have no such sense of urgency in these parts.

And if he is not there in a Jiffy?

Come back in a couple of ticks. Or, being in the Merse, a shake of a lambs tail

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Monday, October 13, 2008
Waiting on Selkirk

The Borders Digital Roadshow hit Duns on Saturday as part of a public education programme preparing the masses for the analogue switch off in much of the Borders between 6 and 20 November. Here as in many other aspects of Life the Merse leads the UK-only a small bit of Cumbria has irrevocably moved into the Digital Age ahead of the Borders.

Huttonian is up with the game with his spanking new flat screen HD ready, Olympics prepared, Credit crunch beating, Digital enhanced TV apparatus. That's the sitting room sorted. But in the kitchen a small,squat, uncool heavy analogue TV set lurks, unconverted and unrepentant at its increasingly cliff hanging existence. Come 6 November, D Day, a blank screen and irritating hum. But I wonder. The digital area maps are fuzzy at the edges, rather like the South of Scotland, NE England weather diagrams and Scottish News comes through blurred and buzzing, enhancing the Salmond image but distorting most else. Northumberland/ Tyneside is clear and sharp. So it may be that we are, in this part of Duns, not served by the Selkirk transmitter-the one that fades away next month but by Chatton analoguing away until 2012? White on the map in 'Switch on to Digital-page 5) and not pink in that swath covering a large amount of the region from Berwick South Westwards.

So I am tempted to wait until 6 November and see what happens, or not see as the case may be.

No signal. No problem. TV dinners in the sitting room.

I'll let you know

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Getting Warm

We never thought we would actually ever have a wood burning stove after all the drama of non-ordering and endless faffing. But here it is. Lit two hours ago and the Old Bakery is once again smelling of newly baked bread*

* Actually that's the wife's bread making machine that's producing the aroma. But its HOT, man, HOT. Central Heating off throughout the ground floor

And unlike Town Mouse no need for the cling film.

The windows are open.

And being wood from the Old Manse from a long deceased Elm Tree its free as well.


Letter Writers and Bloggers. Pah!

Being away in the big smoke I nearly missed this sad letter in the Berwickshire:

SIR, - Can we through your newspaper attempt to clear up a situation which has been causing a great deal of confusion for people and upset for our family for many years.
In Birgham there is a lady who is a regular contributor to your letters page, on often-controversial subjects, called Jean Cunningham. Also in Birgham is another Cunningham family: Alastair, Carol and Emma (also Esther who is in Lennel House Nursing Home).
Because people often presumed we were related to Jean Cunningham we have endured many years of comments and strange looks – especially as we are very actively involved in the local community. Emma in particular suffered at school by people thinking her mother was "that Mrs Cunningham from Birgham who writes to the papers.” In the last few weeks we’ve discovered one family recently discovered we weren’t related after years of apparently criticising us.
We have tried to ignore this situation over the years but recent comments reaching us have brought it to a head again - hopefully now everyone will realise there are two totally separate and unrelated Cunningham families in Birgham!

Perhaps its a good thing that the 'wrong' Cunningham is/was not a Blogger as well as a prolific letter writer. Huttonian was no stranger to the all too widespread local apparent inability to tackle someone directly if they have a problem with them. Comments and strange looks galore in the early days of the blog-'that there Huttonian who has a blog sort of thing. It transpired that most of the less complimentary comments came from people who had never read it. 'I don't know what you have written, I don't want to know and I don't like it. Disgusting

And to put the record straight: there is only one Huttonian.

Accept no imitation.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

National Express train
Originally uploaded by Brufsup
No we are on the train not photographing it from a level crossing. Thankyou Brufsup. Today we hope to experience the full range of NE's extensive reportoire. Today is a Railtrack dig up the lines week end so we are bussing from Newcastle to Berwick. And as it is a weekend for NE as well as RT the buffet car is any inconvenience regretted. We (cheapie) First Class passengers-strangely few given how cheap it is to get an 'at seat service' But I suspect it is identical to the cold fare being ladled out to the Plebs in Coaches J to A minus (Please Sir I want no more)
In First Class it is served with style and Airline banned metal cutelry
A Geordie lass with a nice smile and a pleasant manner.

Makes up for the food,

A bit

In the meanwhile we are stopping at every possible station.


(Eugenie O'Neil has gone by plane)

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Despite a 'Locomotive Problem' at York, National Express deposited Huttonian at Kings Cross only 25 minutes late-'late running service' a grade better on the Railtrack Scale than 'any inconvenience is regretted'. The difficulty at York appeared life threatening to the extent that it was the Locomotive Brake which had a problem. Or as the Service Team Leader (Train Guard in old money) put it: ' The brake is stuck so we are not going anywhere.'

But we did. The resident engineer (York is the best place to break down if you have to) visited the cab, changed the two AAA batteries, flicked a mouse and off we went-inconvenience unregretted but definitely late running

Huttonian and the wife are on a spot of grandparental duty made more pleasurable by a discovery that if you book well in advance its much cheaper to go First Class than 'standard' I had booked one ticket standard and found when doing the other that I could save £30 on a non flexible, no waiting room allowed, First.

So guess who had the First Class ticket?

To be fair the Wife went down the day before. Non stick Brakes. Dead on time.

And tomoorow we both go First. And being a weekend there is the inevitable bus journey involved.

First Class is inside the bus, however.

The image-Ffion and Zoe-thankyou again Erase. Two good reasons for braving brakes and inconvenience)

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Thursday, October 09, 2008


According to today's Berwickshire a suspected Post Office robber up in front of the Sheriff of Duns has been told to 'keep out of Scotland' and only to return for his trial. English criminals-even suspects apparently, are not welcome in Alba

Nothing new here. About seven years ago we went to OZ to visit the senior daughter for three weeks over Christmas and New Year. According to the Fuzz-Rebus' lot Borders and East Lothian Police a gang was targeting 'large country houses'-Old Manses in that category they said. They installed a silent alarm which when activated rang in the nearest police car, unlikely I thought to be within 30 minutes of Hutton-but the idea was that the alarm would not disturb the intruders and they would be caught red handed when the coppers turned up.

The only victim of this elaborate electronic ambush was our lodger who had tripped the beam on his way down for breakfast and was surprised to have a visit from the police 40 minutes later-he had clean forgotten about the device. After our return the alarm was removed without explanation We later heard that the suspected gang had been stopped on the A1 in Berwickshire; suspicious tools useful for housebreaking (?keys)had been found but no hard evidence to justify collar feelings. So they were told that it was clear they were up to no good and told to keep moving south into Northumberland Any attempt to cross the frontier and 'the book would be thrown at them' (Collected Works of Rabbie Burns possibly)

I should be mention that Sheriff Kevin warned the suspect in the PO case that as well as keeping out of Scotland he must make no attempt to change his appearance. So no disguising himself as a Scot-If he has a Kelso tartan kilt or plans to grow a wispy ginger beard-freecycle the former and refrain from the latter

Dom Henry of Flickr tells us that the image is of the real life Sheriff of Nottingham. Its certainly not Kevin of Dunns. If he went round brandishing a bloody big sword he would have to send himself down for a longish spell)

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Still Bearing It

The silly season is not quite over judging from an account of the indefatigable Mrs O's plans to create memorials (Hutton, Paxton, Duns?) for the drunken,smoking,nipping, cursing, fighting Polish bear-the Berwickshire has the whole story here (Voytek surely? Blog ed)Given the important military connection between the Free Poles and the Borders during the Second World War-a permanent memorial for those Polish soldiers, who lost their lives on the Allies' side is surely more appropriate than a statue dedicated to a seriously brain damaged quadruped. And we already have one in Duns.

Or am I missing something

Publicity for a SNP parliamentary candidate perhaps?

(If you really have the patience to read more about this bear, now happily, deceased
go here)

I hope I will not have to mention it again. In the meanwhile if farmers wives really want to do some thing very useful for the community I suggest organising a clean up of the mud on those roads which front or pass through their property. A certain farm on the B6460 would make a good starting point before some unfortunate motorist has a serious skid

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Wanna make a Million, Buddy?

Huttonian has never been the victim of a stock market 'Boiler Room' scam unlike a nearish neighbour in the Borders-the Berwickshire's story is here and I think I am unlikely to be taken in by a smooth cold caller however plausible his pitch. It seems, anyhow, a somewhat odd time for persuading any one to invest in shares and I am told that people are still taken in by phishing e-mails and even by Nigerian 'Chief Cashiers' offering you millions belonging to recently deceased clients in exchange for the temporary use of your bank account.

Mind you I am not all that smart. I parted in the early 1990s with a couple of grand to invest in two barrels of malt whisky. Following an item in the FT Weekend section, (no less)After 5 years or so you could either sell the barrel on to a broker or pay the duty and bottle your own brand-500 bottles at a relatively low retail cost-what a happy old age to look forward to! After I had paid my first cellarage charge (first two years free) to this very prestigious broker I came across a reference to a Whisky Scam-and found I was right in it. The well known (sounding) distillery in whose cellars my barrels were happily maturing had apparently not functioned since the 1970s ( now a leisure centre no doubt) and the smooth Old Etonian* who had taken my cheques (not to mention many others from equally credulous 'alternative investors') was now living the life of Reilly in the Cayman Islands or somewhere, his company with its Park Lane address, bankrupt and declining to return home to help the Fraud Squad with their inquiries. Lesson One-What appears in the FT is not necessarily Kosher and Two: distilleries with nice sounding names like Aber something in deepest Perthshire are not necessarily distilling away.

All of which explains why, when a horny handed 'road contractor', knocked on the Old Manse door and offered to resurface Kirk Lane with very cheap high quality tar 'left over from another job' (which he happened to have handy parked in front of the Village Hall), I was

rather brusque with him

* Not sure about this. He could have gone to Berwickshire High)

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Monday, October 06, 2008

WE have more extension

But Not Enough

Credit due: a lot of progress in the extension to the small house in Duns since we left for Norn Iron. And electrics going in to day. But,oops, sorry forgot to order the window-3 to 5 weeks with a following wind. And I think we have remembered about the bamboo flooring-not sure. Will check and get back to you. But we need it soon and certainly by Christmas. No problem.

If the worst comes to the worst I suppose hardy visitors could camp out. Roof over their heads, solid chipboard under foot, electric plugs and lights in situ. Who really needs a window to look out of in the winter? And with the tarpaulin across the gap the draught is manageable. Not snug, not warm but its only for the night, innit?

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Damp in Dumfries

We have the Whiteadder in the Merse which is spectacular after rain-especially the Bluestane Ford but I must say that the smaller Old Water near Dumfries is pretty impressive as you can see in the video here. Upstream from these rapids there is a very hairy ford which may have only had a foot of water in it as the time this image was taken but was impassable except for large 4xwds-and this only after a day of rain-not much by Dumfries and Galloway standards. Pedestrians tackling the foot bridge would have needed wellies and another days rain,

water wings.

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Now we are five
Originally uploaded by erase
Now safely back from Norn Iron, and realising that the Chain Bridge Bloggee must be missing images of the grand children, here is one hot of the junior son-in-laws flickr of the senior granddaughter contemplating her 5 year old cake-she is just five, the cake was well inside the sell by date. A quirk of the lens makes, the Welsh Wizard Ffion look much bigger than her sister who is not yet two

(Bloggees may be puzzled by the other image-if you click on it you will see it is a rather murky shot of the QE2 charging towards the Stena HSS. The weather was dreichy, the bow (as in ship not as in dog) windows covered in rain drops-apologies.)

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Saturday, October 04, 2008
It was a close shave but we got out of upper Belfast Lough before we could be trapped by the incoming QE2-stuck for an hour minimum said the guy at the gate as you can't pass the QE2. So we are aiming to get the HSS out 10 minutes early and meet the Liner up the lough where it is wider.And they did. Loaded up in 7 minutes presumably turning away in any late comers. And there she was, surprisingly tiny, emerging from the pouring rain looking forward to her 5 hours in Belfast 300 minutes in Belfast dreich soddening around the Peace Wall guided by retired 'Men of Violence' of either persausion.-such an experience would make you look forward actively to Dubai-the ship's last port of call and where it/she will become a 7* hotel.

Was it rough? Yes but with the HSS stabilisers it did not matter-the free Dry Martinis in Stena Plus were barely shaken

and hardly stirred.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Huttonian had been hoping that our departure tomorrow from Norn Iron to return to the Merse would be a trouble free affair but the Blether Centre is warning of gales and sky to sky rain. If that was not enough Stena Line is advising leaving plenty of time to get to the port as the departure of the HSS coincides with the arrival of the QE2 on its round the world farewell tour-as described here So the dilemma of planning an early arrival to catch a ship which might be cancelled at the last moment.

We will not anyhow be getting to Duns tomorrow whatever happens. A night in the wilds of deepest Dumfrieshire is planned. And then normal blogging to be resumed.

If we are spared, of course

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Vandalism at Expected Level Shock

Berwickshire News has an article about the local crime statistics here
Pretty humdrum stuff compared to Norn Iron although Duns with its Boy Racers and vandalism* seems a crime ridden spot compared to Hutton. But 'not so' say my car insurers. By moving from The Old Manse to the Small House in Duns I am saving myself £30 a year (10% or so) on my car insurance. As we are TD15 in Hutton we get tarred with the Berwick brush-presumably

Yet another reason for the creation of a TD 16 post code for rural & Scottish parts TD15

Or, wait a minute, is it to do with the excessive and dangerous traffic on the Fishwick bypass driving up Hutton premiums?

* I am intrigued by Inspector McClean's comment : "Vandalism has remained at the level expected for this time of year"

What should we expect for October-seasonally adjusted?

(There are 1703 images on Flickr for 'Boy Racer' This one of them.)

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

We have extension?

I am grateful to an agent from Fishwick Special Branch's cell in Duns for this image taken this afternoon of the extension at the small-house-in-Duns. In our absence in Norn Iron it is apparent that the roof is on and the chimney for the wood burning stove is in place. We now have to WAIT FOR A WINDOW-FOUR WEEKS FROM ORDERING TO DELIVERY-one might have thought that the window could well have been ordered, say, 4 weeks ago-but perhaps that is too much to expect.

I wonder how this compares with the extension on the Whiteadder as featured in Country Strife?

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Somewhere else in loo

Those of the frequently cross-legged fraternity (or sorority) will be encouraged by a recent article in the Scottish Review-read here about the emergence of free comfort stations for tight bladdered and impecunious persons caught short in remoter areas of Scotland and don't want to brave a noisome and expensive public facility. In the case of Aberfeldy, apparently, public minded cafes throw open their cubicles to all in need and are no doubt rewarded by extra custom from a relieved patron-who no doubt has then to revisit the loo to get rid of the Latte he/she felt morally obliged to purchase.

Loos are thin on the ground in the Borders but then so are potential beneficiaries. No indigent and desperate coach parties descend on Hutton in search of relief.If they did and the post office happened to be open (9-12-30 Mondays and Thursdays) no problem but I doubt that the travelling post office due, possibly, to replace the present one in the village hall will be equipped with a mobile urinal (Where will the van driver/post master 'go', one wonders-bladder clenched 'til Greenlaw, perhaps?)Plenty of hedges on empty roads if all else fails. Those pensioners waiting for the post bus on a cold November morning with the wind whistling through their underwear will have to hope that it is on time and business briskly dispatched or it will be a mad dash home, pension uncashed and second class stamp less.

Mind you I can think of times when public facilities would have been useful in Hutton. Those were the two instances when the village was closed off for 5 hours during stages of the Jim Clarke Rally. Villagers were ok in the comfort stations of their own homes but there were a couple of hundred visiting rally 'groupies' scattered around the main road waiting for the 15 seconds or so that the cars actually were visible in down town Hutton. Village Hall closed, no pub, no loo in tne Church so nowhere to 'go'. Bladders must have been strong as I was not aware of behind the hedge or tree activity while I was waiting for the first lot of cars to roar by-some two hours after they had closed the roads and quarantined the village.

Now I mention it I vaguely recall somebody being rather surreptitious in the vicinity of his touring bike's saddle bag.

I hope he had removed his sandwiches first.

(The image is the Hutton Village Hall-nice loos, when open)

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