Musings from the Merse
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh balmy (climatically) Hutton, why have we deserted you? The temperature has not risen above -3C for 72 hours and the secret garden is seemingly unknown to the sun at this time of the year.

Were we really enjoying coffee and cakes on the garden table and sitting on our bench salvaged from the Old Manse just a few weeks ago? Was that solar light really illuminating our feeble steps? And will the wife's prize Brussels Sprouts thaw out for Christmas? Seems unlikely

But at least its warm inside the house. More than you could usualy say about the Old Manse. Except for the (very) occasional July day.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008


(But you will have to walk)

There is a nice wee Kirk up in the foothills not far from Duns which has long been locked into a dispute (or as they say now-has an issue) with the local laird. The church is on his ground-down his tradesman's entrance drive, and quite a way down. Perhaps because of this the Laird has forbidden cars to go to the church, where if they do, they cannot park as the only area reserved for parking (which I suspect once belonged to the kirk) is reserved for his Beaters* when the annual bird slaughtering is in season. Not too much of a hardship perhaps on a nice summers day but when it is hissing down or blowing a gale its a wet and storm tossed congregation which finally reaches the safety of the building. And presumably a real pain at funerals unless the disceased is healthy enough to walk to his own. And equally irksome for marriages and tough on the bride in all her finery.

Its all a bit silly and I suspect long since a matter of personalities rather than policies. The church is only used once or twice a month and I doubt if there is much shooting on the sabbath so I am sure the beaters could manage to let the kirk goers park there for 60 minutes a month. And the Laird has two grand drives to choose from-even with a full church it is unlikely that his tradespeople will be seriously inconvenienced by a mass (npi) of traffic.

Season of Goodwill coming up. Lets see it in practice

* Beaters. No Anxious of Auckland there are not raelly like Beefeaters

(NB Note to Laird-your main entrance notice directs the unnobs to 'Next Gate' Which 'next'?)

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Friday, November 28, 2008
Duns Dulls A' ?

Huttonian gave one of his now fairly infrequent talks to a localish Borders Institution-no names no pack drill-about living and working overseas, illustrated with rather elderly and scratchy acetates. I may have slightly over egged the more exciting and glamorous aspects of the la vie diplomatique as in the question and answer period after my talk I was asked by a lady 'from the hills' as they say in these parts about people who live at a higher altitude than Duns down Lammermuirs way ' How on earth can you live in place** like Duns after being in so many exotic places?' I said all the nice things about this little town as you might expect from a seasoned envoy* but I don't think she was convinced:

'What I always say about Duns. Dull but dependable' was her verdict

Well, you could have worse descriptions-and it might make a more appropriate town motto than 'Duns Dings A'. I am inviting Hutton Think Tank to run an one of its targeted competition to find similar pithy three word labels for other Borders' settlements. First prize: an all expenses paid week in the town of your choice. Second prize

two weeks.

* A diplomat is an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country?

** Didn't actually say 'place'

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bomb stopped tennis. You CAN'T BE SERIOUS

The heart stopping news in the Berwickshire-see here is about the discovery of an unexploded Second World War German shell/bomb on the old tennis court at Greenlaw which is being restored to Fred Perry standards (and may not have been played on since his time). Greenlaw apparently saw enemy action in the war where allied Poles may have been the intended targets; rather unsporting to bomb them during tennis match, one would have thought. Alternatively the bombers may have been after Voytek the iconic Polish dancing, fighting, drinking Bear which single handly saw off six Panzer divisions in the Italian campaign. It is not previously recorded that this multi tasking animal ever played tennis but I suppose it may have carrying the drinks around when the Germans pounced.

Elsewhere in the Berwickshire it is reported that there is to be a special Voytek exhibition in London next year. Sadly this will be reported ad nauseam in the Berwickshire which is sending its foreign correspondent to the Big Smoke to cover the event.

(the image is Hutton Think Tank mock up of Greenlaw Tennis court had (a) the bomb exploded and (b) it had been a nuclear device.)

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Extracting the Digital

A bloggee asks :
I was actually wondering whether you had a handle on the strange case of the disappearing television stations. Last week Freeview digital viewers in the area lost several stations including Channel 5 (no loss to me, but it’s the principal of the thing). Many of the remaining stations cannot now be reached because a “weak signal” notice appears. I can no longer receive BBC1/BBC2/ITV1 Scotland nor my beloved BBC4. This means I can’t watch that brilliant Gaelic language current affairs programme, Eorpa. I can still receive BBC1 and 2 North East England as well as Tyne Tees ITV and BBC3. I cannot get UKTV History, Nuts, Dave, Virgin of TFM, all of which have the occasional bizarre programme.

I am not sure what part of the Borders the inquirer inhabits-I know it has a lot of mud on the roads which narrows it down nor a whit. We had confidently been expecting the disappearance of all our (four) analogue channels with THE GREAT SWITCHOVER to Digital long promised to take place between 10 and 20 November. The Borders will be the first to turn its back on crude boring analogue and embrace the Digital Revolution. So were were loudly and frequently told and even had a 'Digital Bus' parked in Duns Market Square for a couple of days spreading the message-switch over or switch off. I had duly put our post code into the appropriate box in the Digital UK website and was warned in big red letters that we were certainly for the chop, analoguely speaking. I did wonder as we could not receive BBC Scotland (but could get ITV 1 Scotland) and were presumably on the Geordie waveband and sure enough nothing happened earlier this month-the Dog continued not to bark at night, as it were. So it appears we are not due to be switched off until next year or the year after. Our digital set also fails to pick up Scottish broadcasts thanks presumably to the aerial setting installed by the previous owners of this property.

We never could get Channel 5-not even in swinging Hutton. So nothing new there.

Ah. Stop Press.The Dog has again not barked. ITV Scotland has disappeared from the analogue.

So its into the sitting room for the Bill.

Well we were warned.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Campbells are coming. For Christmas. Unfortunately

It was bound to happen. The Mendicant Piper (MP) on the south side of Princes Street has severe and sustained competition. Not from another nearby McBusker but from the dreadfully kitsch 'Scottish shop' just around the corner on the other side of the street now blaring forth, tinny but strident pipe music (or rather Macmusack) from strategically placed loud speakers-strategic in the sense that a well intentioned and public spirited axeman can't quite reach them. Usually it is all the old favourites so beloved of Jimmy Shand but to day a sinister new development:

'Away in the Manger' on the pipes or a rough approximation. Very rough*

I suspect there is big money to be made in Gallicising the old carols -surely all out of copyright by now

Jimmy Wenscelas set out
early in the gloamin
'If I canna find me tartan troos
I'll have to quit the roamin'

* Don't try this at home. Please

(The image is of a Scottish piper in Swaziland. Now if we could all club together and buy a ticket to darkest Africa for the MP of PS.....One way would be fine)

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Focking the Ads (Pardon my French)

'So suddenly you are an expert on pirates?' said an acquaintance. I detected a bit of a sniff. I was pondering this when I had an e-mail from CBS asking for telephone interview on, yes, Somali pirates. I pointed out that Somalis, Pirates and hi-jacked super tankers is not really my scene but I am prepared to pontificate on
anything if the price is right-not that money is generally involved for such interviews with media as an 'expert'

Mystery solved (Thankyou Mr Google) : Read the Voice of America piece here Scroll down a bit and you'll find my impersonator

My most memorable radio interview was over the home phone in Norn Iron with Radio Mountain Donegal.With ten minutes notice I was asked to give my views on the latest non peace process in the Middle East. This was for their 'The World from Idjit* Island' or something like that : a monthly current affairs programme focusing on international issues as far away as Buncrana or Baghdad. The presenter was well informed and I enjoyed his searching questions until an agitated voice in my ear (and in his presumably) said' What about the Ads? The Ads are due'

'Fock the Ads'

And we carried on for another 15 minutes.

I later inquired about the 'audience profile' for Radio Mountain Donegal.

'About 14 listeners' 'Is that a representative cross section?'

'Indeed it is better than that.

Its the lot.'
(*Possibly Cruit Island? Blog-ed)

The image is of Mount Errigal-part of the Mountain Radio catchment area

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

It already is clear that the Duns effect-as opposed to the Hutton one, is becoming increasingly evident the longer we live here. This is a colder damper place and damp equals snow in these parts at this time of early winter. In Hutton one went out in the snow because it was there-Dingers are more purposeful -go out to get there or get something.In Hutton that was not an option-nowhere to get to-almost-on non Post Office days and nothing to get-see sentence immediately above. So except for 9-12-30 Mondays and Thursdays stay at home.

This morning Huttonian was out before the first frost bitten Dunnock and blazed a trail through at least 1cm of snow to get the Observer and was enchanted to be beaten to it by the man whose imprints you can see coming from the blizzard emptied market square. How can I tell from his footprints that he is a fellow Observer reader I hear you cry? Simple My Dear Sonwat-his feet were obviously determined but slightly shuffling-a man riffling through the 12 supplements and deciding which to recycle in a convenient sack before reaching home, whilst wearing heavy gloves and suffering an equally heavy cold. 'Has some one just bought the other Observer from you?' I asked the newsagent. I
'Indeed you have just missed him-bad cold poor fellow'

I rest my case

I am not sure which Sunday Worm the birds take around here but the third image seems to be the footprint of a three legged feathered friend-or three small ones hopping to keep themselves warm. The snow had frustrated the worm hunting but now, early evening the snow has mostly gone; replaced by mud. And that does remind me of


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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wanna a Band?

This weeks odd letter in the Berwickshire is as follows

SIR, - Malicious rumours are at present circulating in Eyemouth and the surrounding district stating that the Eyemouth RBLS Branch Pipe Band is in the process of being disbanded.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
The band led the parade from the parish church to the war memorial on Remembrance Sunday as it has done for many years.
The band meets for chanter practice in the British Legion Club on Wednesday evenings 7pm. Band practice is held in the community centre on Friday evenings at 7pm.
A warm welcome will be extended to any child or adult who wishes to take up the free piping or drumming lessons which are available to anyone interested in piping or drumming.
Any enquiries relating to the availability of the band should be made to the honorary secretary Anne Nisbet on 018907 61327.

The Borders can be a hot bed of rumours but one about the possible disbanding (npi) of a Pipe Band seems a bit OTT. Who would want to spread such a tale-and maliciously to boot? Some tone deaf incomer perhaps?

Me, I had heard a non malicious rumour-more like wishful thinking, one supposes, that the Princes Street Mendicant Piper had been disbanded-handed in his violin case, deflated the pipes and had gone to take violin lessons in Damascus. But as in the case of the Eyemouth musicians just not true.

A pity.

(Thankyou Mr David Divine and Flickr for this image of the band in question)

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Borders Confidential

The 'Public Access' website detailing Scottish Borders Council Planning Applications carries this caveat:

NOTE: For reasons of confidentiality, Scottish Borders Council may choose not to display certain Planning Applications.

One wonders, does one not, what applications are to be shielded from public scrutiny in the Borders? WMD Installations? Nuclear Bunkers-might the IRA, for example, seek permission for a facility to put their weapons 'beyond use' outside Ireland.?

Huttonian knows of no examples of 'confidential' planning applications, but then he wouldn't, if they were confidential, would he?

There is one possible case where this rule might have been applied; Fishwick Special Branch's new Head Quarters. So secure was the planning process that the original application was shredded-before submitting to the committee-and for security reasons no copy was made. Moreover it was belatedly discovered that none of the councillors on the Area Committee had been security cleared so they would not have been allowed to see the planning application in any case, as it was classified Secret, Open Eyes Only and Loc Sen (Locally sensitive) The only planning official cleared to deal with classified documents, a certain Hajji Mustafa Ibrahim Renton was in Iran on holiday at the time (may still be there as there is no trace of him at Newtown St.Boswells when the Blog enquired under the Freedom of Information Act)

Planning Permission was therefore never given but as the secret plans for the facility were also destroyed and the exact site not allowed to be revealed to the builder it did not matter very much. So FSB still operate out of the spare room at the Hutton Think Tank Research Complex. Wherever

that may be.

(The image is possibly of one of the sites which may or may not have been considered for the new HQ. Or possibly not. Whatever)

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Barren Rocks of Where?

"Do you do military tunes requests?" Asked the grizzled old veteran to the Princes Street Mendicant Piper having deposited a whole 20p piece into his violin case. " Its a Scottish Soldier you will be wanting" responded the MP starting on his tom cat warm up. "No. Its the Barren Rocks of Aden' I'll be wanting" said the GOV " I know all the tunes and I don't know that one" replied the MP " You must have the name wrong" Now Listen Jimmy" said the GOV "I have marched behind many a proper Piper up every ******* back alley in Aden, I've marched with the ******* Argylls, I have marched with that ******* Mad Mitch and don't tell me I have the name wrong. Many brave Jocks died with that tune in their heads. What ******* piper does not know the Barren ******** Rocks of ******* Aden?

He retrieved his 20p piece and stalked off towards Waverley Street steps, almost marching, no doubt, to the sound of distant drums (and pipes)..The MP broke into 'Will ye no come back again'

I may be imagining it but the 'no' sounded underlined to my uneducated ear.


(The image is of another MP in London-his specie container is even bigger than the one in Princes Street)

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

at Paris Nord -Gare du Nord in old money. The Loos are disguised as Mr Clean(what does the Academie Francaise make of that) and when you enter, legs crossed, unmentionables clenched you are confronted with a unisex queue-quite long at 1155 am today. Then Messieurs a gauche, Mesdames a droit and One Euro for the his and hers turnstiles. One Euro or 81p (no pun intended) -almost three times Kings Cross. In this case the queue was so slow moving (Try moving fast with lc and uc as well)so I took my custom elsewhere. The Eurostar lounge, a poor relation of St Pancras, but a pee is free and only the ladies have to queue.

And then the contrast between Eurostar Leisure Select and National Express East Coast First class.
For once

Words fail me

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Missed the last Bus. Lets have Lunch

Scanning last week's Berwickshire-as one does on wet days the Isle de France-Huttonian came across this letter=

SIR, - I want to bring readers up to date on the problems arising from our third world public transport service in Berwickshire.
For some years I have been passing on complaints about the inadequacy of the bus service connecting Berwickshire with Edinburgh and Berwick, and three issues have repeatedly been drawn to my attention by dissatisfied residents.
Firstly, there is no evening service to bring people home from the capital any later than 7.10pm.
If you are not car-mobile, theatres, concerts, late working, late shopping are all out of the question unless you impose on the kindness of friends and neighbours.
Secondly, suppose you are offered a job in Berwick upon Tweed. If you live in north eastern Berwickshire (Reston, Grantshouse, Cockburnspath and their environs) there is no service going toward Berwick in the morning until after 10am. Lucky the school leaver who has a friend or relative with an available car. Tough luck for those who don’t.
Thirdly, HM Government is trying, for good environmental reasons, to get people “out of their cars and into public transport”. What public transport?
Help from Councillor Michael Cook last year, secured me an interview with John Dellow, from Scottish Borders HQ, to discuss provision of an evening service that would help people get home from Edinburgh later in the evening. This took place over a year ago.
Nothing resulted from it except my being told of several reasons why the council is unlikely to do anything about it, even though I suggested a way it could be effected without sending an extra bus all the way to Edinburgh.
This would only involve sending a bus to Dunbar, to meet one of the late evening buses from Edinburgh which terminate there.
The only outcome of all this is that I now realise that the council has no intention of spending a penny extra toward bringing Berwickshire public transport into the 21st century.
You will have received, within the past week, a letter from John Lamont, MSP, raising issues regarding public transport. I suggest that you write to him at Holyrood and/or your councillor, and/or Mr Dellow at SBC and express your awareness of these concerns.
Mr Lamont’s letter makes the issue of public transport a hot topic at the moment.
I am therefore asking some people to join me in forming an action group. I am contacting one or two people who I know take this matter very seriously, and we would form a small committee.
We will undertake whatever legal and decent methods we can use; surveys, petitions, correspondence, maybe even demos.
Reader, please write to me and I will gladly put you on the mailing list as to the committee’s progress.
2 Ecclaw Cottages,

Well there is a cause worth supporting and while you are at it demand a train service from Embra to Ber-wick after 9 pm. Without a car a theatre visit involves an overnight stay.

As for demos perhaps the good people of Hutton will do their bit. They can't get a bus back from Berwick sfter 4 pm, never mind Embra.

But avoid Sundays for a demonstration in Hutton-rioters being bussed in will not make it.

No Bus

(A bloggee has suggested borrowing the Ellemford Beaters Transport vehicle as a stop gap bus bringing revellers back from Edinburgh after 7.10 pm. A starter Mr Harrison?)

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Monday, November 17, 2008
  French Hotties

French Hotties
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
This image has had a lot hits.

I fear the title may have been somewhat misleading.

Huttonian survived the onslaught by Aliens and with only one rocket going astray on to the roof of the fierce neighbours : "Je retournerai votre ballon si vous me donnez notre fusée" I said to the boy next door returning his ball.He was less obligung about the rocket which is still in his roof gutter. I have no images of the rockets being fired or stomped as my role was retrieving them well beyond the target at the furthest reaches of our asteroid.

The most popular game was beating the Pinata bear to make it disgorge or more accurately anally evacuate its belly full of sweets. It proved too tough for the beating to have the desired effect and in the end the right string in its nether parts had to be pulled to allow the candies to escape.

The theme being Aliens, Katy had been forbidden by her big brother from appearing as a Princess, or Snow White-even an alien Sleeping Beauty was off limits. Several melt downs later she agreed to come as an alienne but dumped her attennae at an early stage
Much of the proceedings was inside in the pitch dark lit only by a Mac playing planetary music and the occasional sparkler. And the noise level of 8 year olds:


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Sunday, November 16, 2008

WE May have liftoff

What is the most challenging thing Huttonian has ever been asked to face? Negotiating with terrorists who seized a British Airways plane full of school chidren in Jordan in 1970? A doddle. Being shot up in Radfan by revolting* tribesmen-piece of cake. Confronting the Soviet Ambassador at the UN? Enjoyable. Being towered over by the Laird discussing 140 new houses in Knowe's Close on the H and P community council. Routine

Helping to organise a birthday party for a gang of 8 year olds?

Now that is challenging for you

I think the Treasure hunt in the deep bush (Eldest daughter's garden)is under control but I am not quite sure where all the cryptic clues have been hidden and if they are in the right order. I am doubtful about the durability of the Stomp rocket firing mechanism after assaults by 8 boys and the tolerance of the fearsome neighbours about to come under more missile attacks than southern Lebanon. The theme is aliens so if the French immigration officials raid us there may be some awkward questions to answer " From Mars,Monsieur? And the purpose of your visit?

Huttonian is the official photographer.

Watch thus space

If I am spared

*in a political sense

( The image illustrates an outcome we wish to avoid)

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Uniquely Prix?

The notice in Prix Unique stated " Penzez aux Piles" The recently arrived Brit whispered to his wife " Just what I have been doing!( Scratch, scratch) They have a Pharmacy Section?"

She looked blank for a moment.

"I don't think a couple of AAAs are going to help"

(If you are amongst the cognescenti of Formula One a pun involving Prix and Grand might not elude you with regard to the image. He may have been called worse)

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Carrefour Les Braves

Shopping for le fete d'anniversaire. Not as easy as Sir Morrisons-the labels are in French for Goodness Sake. Creme d'Anglaise is custard. That's fairly obvious. Viande de Cheval; pass even if they are old hacks exported from Berwickshire via Ber Wick on Tweed. Le Scotch-no, not le whisky ecossais but sticky tape. I did get a bit lost with searching for heavy duty version-Le Scotch de Canard rang no bells with the helpful monolingual staff 'dans store'

"Espece d'idiot" said the Wife "its Duct not Duck"

Not much help as she did not know the French for Duct

"Can I help you?" asked the back of a T-shirt belonging to a belle assistante. It/she couldn't

"Duct" is difficult to mime

We found some in the end; so now we can fasten up the Jet packs for Sunday's party

The search for suitable aliens goes on

One image is the store in Dubai. No horse meat I suspect

The other is a discriminating shopper selecting a cool hot water bottle-no oxymoron intended. As a French nobleman once said unflatteringly of an acquaintance

" Il a une femme,deux maitresses seulement et trois bouteilles chaudes"

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Le Bon Voyage-revisite
I am afraid that try as they may-National Express will never quite compete with Eurostar for style and service Some how Les Frogs know how to serve a good meal at your seat, with vin naturellement, and it is not just soggy pizza or soup of the day-so cold,it would be better called Soup of Yesterday. And we are not talking First Class but Eurostar oddly called Leisure Select-a sort of Club Class. Quite cheap if you book a month ahead and go inflexible-no change allowed. And the meal is part of the deal

As the Chicken and Leek Pie came up the aisle the couple from Tunbridge Wells put down their His and Hers Telegraphs. "Is this all there is?" "Well you can have Cod" "Lets look. Oh Dear its all messed up and no chips. Is that Brocolli? Yuk. Should have gone Standard Class and brought our sandwiches"

So they had the chicken Which they enjoyed despite being very messed up. But admit it? And thankyou.

What do you think?

The image is of a lady from Tunbridge Wells sent by husband to get a Watney's Red Barrell and told not to be fobbed off with "French Pissy Lager

She returned with two Gins and Tonic (and a packet of Crisps)

Vives Les Anglais d'Outremere

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The Berwickshire Oligarch (Harris Tweed hacking jacket, Barbour, brogues, cavalry twill trousers) in the waiting room at Berwick Station with his Oligarch spouse(Harris Tweed etc etc)-both looking down their noses at the plebs-was when not glaring gabbling into their phones.
Suddenly the air was filled with the Ride Of The Valkyries. Very loud. it seemed to be coming from the general direction of BOs.' The' Female Oligarch threw herself at the male-fumbled inside his jacket, rummaged threw his pockets as the Ride became more frantic. With a cry of triumph she produced an object from inside his left trouser pocket and waved it in the air. His mobile number two. He dropped Mobile One and grabbed two. The Valkyries came to a dead stop.' Damn he yelled;The Bugger has gone''Who?' enquired the FBO''Ivanakov....the bugger who wants to buy...

I didn't hear the rest drowned out by the train announcement as the BOS rushed up the platform towards First Class

The plebs were left in an orgy of speculation. Oligarchs with Russian backing? What to buy that might interest the aluminium barons? Bring Osborne and Mandelson to the Borders?
Secret Meetings in the Royal Yacht Brittania? Or in Ivanakov's luxury boat moored off Spittall? Imaginations Boggle.

I wonder if it is Berwick Rangers they are after?' Suggested a P;eb

Berwick Rangers?

Now there is a thought

'I wonder if it is Berwick Rangers he is after? suggested a Pleb

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Encore La France

The blog is off to France for the eldest grandchild's 8th birthday-the theme this year for his party being Aliens (Space borne kind not Turkish guest workers) which is a change from earlier this year :Pirates, when Huttonian felt obliged, against many better judgments to make an appearance as Captain Hook-not a success with impressionable (and strangely tearful) small girls and the middle granddaughter, whose birthday it was, suggested an immediate change of costume. See here This time I will avoid face paint, antennae, bulbous eyes or other props. I'll confine myself on advice on the firing of the pump rockets and the dispatching of little green plastic men into space (our luggage is full of them) but hopefully not outwith the boundaries of the garden; the neighbours have a rather uncertain sense of humour and I doubt if they have been brought up to appreciate Le Docteur Qui

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Dun(s) Roamin; revisted

In the Old Manse of Blessed Memory we used to enjoy the 'Hutton Effect'. Pouring in Paxton, crashing down in Chirnside, bucketing in Berwick-bone dry in TD151TS. Often coming into the village, immersed in a deluge there would suddenly be a line on the road-puddles one side, desert like the other. Now we have the Dunsclimit. Dry in Allanton and Preston, balmy in Ellemford and hissing down here. Even up Dun Law where the Convenantors picnicked it can be glorious and the Market Square, below, covered in recently arrived Cats and Dogs. Dunsclimit as a rare example of the Micro Climate in action-if it was slightly warmer we would be hacking our way through Rain Forest en route to the newsagents every morning. For Hutton sunshades and dining al fresco, Duns machetes and wipe your feet before breakfast.

No matter; the small house in Duns is snug; in a secret sheltered space, double glazed, low ceilings and the rain a pleasant drumming on the porch roof. No more the howling Westerly gales which made conversation in the Old Manse a top of your voice affair. Hutton dry : yes; cold ? no; frigid, yes.

Me I'll take the rain.


(Yes, Twitcher of Teeside, those white containers are for bird food (no room inside the house), yes we are covered in feeding stations, nothing changed there-as someone remarked it seems that your new home is

strictly for the birds )

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Lest we Forget

Our first Remembrance Sunday in Duns. A much grander affair, I suspect, than the short simple service beside the War Memorial in Hutton or in Paxton. Here we have the extra laying of wreathes at the Polish memorial and not a drunken bear in sight. In Hutton the commemoration ended with everyone taking off their poppies and sticking them in he grass beside the memorial. They remained there for a few days and were then tidied away. I used to have the unworthy thought of a thrifty villager or two sneaking back to reclaim their poppy for use next year (and the year after) No evidence for this- although the poppies certainly disappeared quite soon and none actually warn during the service looked particularly tatty or recycled.

But around here thriftiness is next to Godliness.Waste not Want not and you never know, they might run out next year.Mightn't they?

Better safe than sorry.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Berwickshire News Post Box opens at Dunds newsagents

is a headline in the on-line Berwickshire. 'Dunds' is a nice variation on Duns if not as evocative as the original name of Dunse. The Berwickshire News office in the town closed some months ago very little printable material was emerging from the county capital apart from the doings of Sherif Kevin. Now if you have a story, a possible article, an exclusive photo, a Borders Tart or whatever, you can pop it into the blue container in Finnies, the more southern of the two newsagents in Duns and it will be whisked off to the Tweedsdale Press HQ in Berwick. (England not Berwickshire)

I don't know if we will have a sudden upsurge in Duns' stories but you can bet your bottom Clydesdale Bank dollar that readers of the letter column will have to put up with more effusions from the self appointed Regent of the (Stuart) Kingdom of Scotland. And he at least will not have to compromise his integrity by buying a second class stamp with the wrong sort of Monarch on it.

The image is of Duns North Street-Duns South Street leads you to Finnies and the other newsagent is Nairns north of the square. Just visible in this picture-if you know where it is and squint a bit.

Both stock the Grudian

and the Daily Mail-English version but you need to be quick off the mark.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Duns Drive 12th
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Duns Golf Course (MPBUI) in sunnier times. Like April last year. Today it wasrather muddy coloured. You could drown on some of the fairways and the Life Boat would be welcome on the first fairway-my clerical partner was keeping his spirits up by humming 'For those in Peril on the Sea' It was surprising that the course was open at all. No sign of the green keepers who may have been marooned somewhere.

Before we went out I asked the only other person on the course, paddling across the 18th green how it was 'out there' . He rubbed the mud off his face and said:


Yorkshire folk used to say 'Where there is muck there's brass'

Around Duns judging from the state of the public park and the Golf Course it should be : Where there is Muck there's Grass.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Berwickshire being flush with space published this letter today. Unusual to see such carping criticism about a local amateur production. From my experience of Amateur Dramatics in small communities (like British expats overseas) this sort of assault usually arises from some in- fighting in the society itself-perhaps one of those 'reliable and reputable stable of players omitted from the cast' inspired this epistle or the writer himself (it is a he, Feminist of Foulden)may have aspired to trip the boards.

SIR, - It is always with trepidation one goes to see a production from a company that has been defunct for so long - one notices the hand at the helm is the experienced and innovative Duns Operatic Society producer Adam Brown and so one tends to think the first production on offer in safe hands.
A newly reformed society, new blood and a tried and tested director.....however the fare served up by the newly restored Duns Players was like the Curate’s Egg - good in parts.
Brown has, over the years built a reliable and reputable stable of players that have never failed to impress, however the omission of these names from the cast list was the first warning shot that this was not a show to relax into.

Several very unsteady performances and an apparent lack of direction in some places certainly gave the impression that the “Farndale Ladies” were a very am-dram bunch indeed.
This certainly was a cross between Farcicle and the WI - and even after a few days thought it is not entirely clear if this was the intention.
Under rehearsed or given the venue just too hard to stage?
The aforementioned “egg” did indeed have its good parts - Alex Watson deservedly earning her wings for her masterly interpretation and performance, a name we can only hope to see again and one that deserves rank along with Brown’s other mainstay performers Redpath, McIver and Hartley.
A revived society must draw on its first production to draw audiences and indeed talent for its second and it only has to be hoped that this group can do both for the future .

I doubt if the undersigned will be invited to the casting couch in the immediate future.

He has helpfully given his e-mail address after his letter. Now there is a chance for all his fans to have a say.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ye will no come back again. Please

Huttonian understands that as part of ensuring the Borders remain 'Scotland's favourite short break destination' the county boundaries are going to be marked by appropriate greeting boards and towns will have more informative town signs, than at present referring to their claims to individual distinction. Duns for example could be:' DUNS. Scotland's Favourite Pit Stop' a reference to the Jim Clarke connection. So visitors could stop a passer by and enquire, anxiously, 'Is Duns the Pits?'

AS for County boundaries, Hutton Think Tank is holding a competition for the best county border slogan. A number of entries have been received-the front runner so far being;


The image shows an existing Scotland sign. This could be modified for Berwickshire and the Madame Tussauds waxwork indicating that the rain may be stopping, retained.

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So now can we draw a line, move on and envision a future without ranting away about a statue for Voytek the fighting, farting, flirting etc etc Polish bear. While various people here (one at least) were agitating for some fitting memorial for the long dead Bruno all was in hand in Embra. Read all about it here Well done PC Daley for quietly getting on with it whilst further to the south east a lot of p### and w*** was expended in achieving nothing except some temporary self publicity.

So one hopes that we can forget the idea of a memorial for this unsavoury beast in these parts where Voytek's stay was mercifully brief. Paxton House in particular has a poor record for looking after public art in its grounds so any fine Polish inspired statue is at least spared neglect in some foreign shrubbery which is for ever Berwickshire.

So if you go down to the woods today you an be sure that any picnic is


For that relief. Much thanks

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Those of you, like Huttonian, who feel daunted about trawling the 5 aisles of 'must haves' at the Coop in Duns will feel exhausted at the prospect of shopping the new Mall in Dubai-well described in the online FT here 600 retail 'outlets' -shops in old money, bustling with well heeled patrons who may be turned off by the lack of a ski slope 'in store' as available at another Dubai 'marketing complex'

Huttonian had four years in Dubai from 1981-85. It was then no where as massively grotesque as it is now. Some 7,000 Brits lived there.Perhaps 30,000 now. One of my senior colleagues had been in Sharjah, the state next to Dubai in the late 1950s. Dubai then a small pearl fishing and smuggling centre did not rate a British Government representative. The British community in what is now the UAE (including Dubai)was small. Well, quite small. He could get them all around his dining room table which, with extension, could seat


Things have changed for the better except for the 150,000 plus migrant bachelor workers paid peanuts, housed in shacks, treated like slaves who have built all this Shopping Paradise on Earth. I doubt if they ever enjoy the retail therapy for which the stinking rich Emirate is famous.But a consoling thought; there is one acid test which I suspect all these miles and miles of world class emporia will fail. Try asking for

The Berwickshire.

No Farmer C, the image is not of Fishwick as visualised by the Scottish Borders Council Planning, Development and Vision Team. It is of Dubai. The World's tallest building, Burg al Dubai, as yet unfinished is visible above the mist. The 600 retail outlets lies somewhere in its shadow but much too small to register on this scale. Something in common with the Coop in Duns?

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Monday, November 03, 2008
Dial 'M' for 'Mother'

For years BT have been wanting to close down a number of telephone boxes in the area-Hutton was on the list once but seems to have been reprieved after 'public uproar'-at least two people complained as did the Community Council. We never reached the stage of an official notice in the box itself giving us 42 days notice of closure but the phone had its 'Internet access' removed and was converted to 'no cash'. As I was aware of only one person using the phone in 11 years (a lost White Van driver looking for the Manse, Antrim House, Old Manse, New Manse or Former Manse-his mobile had no signal. Ha!)I doubt if many people were inconvenienced by the dumbing down

At Ellemford, which if not exactly in the middle of nowhere is at least on the periphery, there is one of those old fashioned kinds universal before the current undistinguished glass cabins It is on the 42 days notice to close and looking at the official statement of intent (click to enlarge) has been in that state of suspended animation for some years. BT claims its underused and they may be right judging from the other inside shot which shows a healthy growth of cobwebs(see it enlarged) and/or spider webs-perhaps the very phone Robert the Bruce used on his way to Bannockburn?

I suspect BT have backed off in the face of local complaints. Its a busy little country road and it actually goes somewhere, which is really more you can say about the F (class not expletive)road through Hutton. The mobile signal is not good and someone someday may need to use it in an emergency. The fact that it has not been used recently and Bruce's call may or may not have been essential is neither here

or there.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Grin and Bear it. Once more with Feeling

Huttonian vowed not to blog(again) about Voytek the Drinking, Smoking, Fighting, ASBO-worthy Polish Bear but a letter in the Berwickshire strikes a chord:

SIR, - May I disagree with the places to put the statues of Voytek the Bear.
There was no Polish connections with Paxton House. They employed Italian prisoner of war labour.
Visitors have to pay to go to Paxton House and it is closed from October to Easter. As Duns has a Polish war memorial and Duns is twinned with Zagen in Poland more people would be visiting Duns.
Voytek ended his days at the zoo in Edinburgh. Many children saw him then and would remember him today. The statue would be more at home there than at the Parliament. How many politicians remember him?
Hutton (not Paxton) was the centre for the Polish soldiers. Two of them found wives and lived there.
Name and address withheld on request

Someone should show this letter to Mrs O

So no statue in Paxton then?

Nor in the Eildon Hills either, as yet-see image taken from Harden's Hill looking south west. Click on it to see Trimontium- one more possible site for a statue to Voytek as suggested by nobody. Frankly I could not be bothered to put up another picture of the disagreable and dead animal

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

A bloggee has suggested that Huttonian has been a trifle unkind about Big Jim-see post immediately below. Just because he is a bit long winded and at times incoherent is no reason for poking fun-look what happened to Russell Brand, he points out. After all he continues we are talking about a local government councillor, not the Chief Whip and most councillors are long winded and mostly incoherent (In his experience I hasten to add, I never said that)

I am sure that Mr F will take no offence- a cheery bloke as you can see from his official photograph-as lifted from here. And I have no intention in leaving inappropriate messages on his answer machine. And I very much doubt if the disgraced Mr B will bother to do so either, even a very short one, querying, ever so politely, the use of 'rurality'

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