Musings from the Merse
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DR Faustus I Presume?

We escaped from 31C in steamy Lunnon to arrive (20 minutes-slight inconvenience regretted-technical problem near Thetford)in dreich bound Berwick and felt our uncertain way back to Duns. Cold and misty there as well.

Inquired about the weather at the newsagents-still very misty this morning; guy getting the Torygraph was not impressed about my account of the Tropic of Edmonton and unbearable life threatening conditions on the Charing Cross Road. Pensioners advised to stay indoors from 11 to 4, carry at least 8 bottles of drinking water, dehydrating alcohol, tea and coffee to be avoided etc etc.

'Huh' he said; 'That's London' Got to expect that' He mopped his brow with the Business Section, and shuddered.

'Duns' he said.
'Yesterday' he said
'Afternoon' he said
' It was' dramatic pause ' 20.5C'

'Hell out There'

and started to feel his way home

(Thankyou Ben Harper for your flickr image of a pub in Hackney; picture the scene outside the Black Bull at 4pm yesterday-if you dare)

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Monday, June 29, 2009
  Salvo Fair Knebworth House

Salvo Fair Knebworth House
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
This suitably clad young lady (for the weather, if not the ocassion) was still on the shelf, as it were, after three days of the Salvo fair at Knebworth House. Her little dog was also unsold with most of the visitors carrying off reclamation junk, beds, knobs and broomsticks amongst them. I suspect that many of the exhibits had passed through the hands of free cyclers; surely Berwickshire could put on a spectacular event given the amazing surplus to requirements stuff which features in the local free cycle website and is usualy snapped up smartish. Pergolas and Pagodas as new, gents hickory shafted golf clubs (Owner taking up tennis) Lovely nude on plinth (no longer enjoyed owing to fading sight) So much scope for the enterprising enterpreneur.
Paxton House the ideal location. Its a bit short of events for the moment
Sunday, June 28, 2009

You might expect to find Jurassic Park in the wilder stretches of the Whiteadder Gorge-becoming less wilder at the minute as the Hutton Mill Complex threatens to expand at an alarming rate as Mr R expands his managerial staff housing; but in the grounds of an English Stately Home? It is a bit alarming to be trampling through formal gardens and suddenly be plunged into primeval forest and then...... OK once the first shock wore off you could see that the creatures were not that realistic-made little impression on the 2 and 5 year old girls. Anyhow as a tourist attraction it is certainly a winner and I pass on the thought to the Borders Tourist Highheidyins as an alternative short break destination-alternative to Amazing Maize Mazes now seemingly defunct and grand houses closed to the public for half a year.

How about a Borders Theme Park, Scottish Dinosaurs (on loan from the Executive) Bravehearts (visiting from Oz) mingling with real live Reivers,Reiver's Lasses, Wynsome Maydes (surplus to the summer festivals. What on earth does the Duns Reiver do for the other 51 weeks of the year?) A small working distillery; Flodden battle field re-creations- the Scots could win this time round; Krazy Golf; toss your own caber; lasses doing Scottish dancing; Highland Cattle Rodeo; A museum of Borders Life with life size reproductions of Village Schools and Community Post Offices manned with period costumed guides. The possibilities are limitless. I am sure any public spirited laird or weary farmer would be delighted to find some land for such a worthy purpose

I can think of a couple.

If the price is right

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Very rarely does the letter column of the Berwick Advertiser produce anything that is not to do with Wind Turbines; last week's issue is an exception and worth reproducing for that reason alone


SIR,-An MPs lot:

I am such a lowly MP
I make to odd mistake,
Doing what other MPs do
You say I’m on the take.
We follow a set of strictest rules
by appointed scrutineers,
For their tireless work to MPs
we made them lifelong Peers.
I live just two miles from the house
not far for me to roam,
Bought a castle north of Inverness
To call my second home.
The ducks need a new duck house
the moat it needs a clean,
Blue movies are much better watched
on a giant TV screen.
All my claims are essential
I can't see why all the fuss,
I can produce a signed receipt
from receiptsRus!


Thankyou Mr Goggin-its worthy of insertion in 'Spectres on the Scene'-but it is not a Berwickshire Ditty so out it stays.

** OWED TO MPs surely? Blog-ed

(image: a new bloggee has commented :' Gosh if I was an MP I would like such a big house with a wide moat like this'

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In Duns as in Hutton there is no problem with exchanging greetings with complete strangers-except after time in Hutton it was impossible to find one 'Good Mornin' they say in the Merse, 'g' swallowed and the 'in' on a rising intonation. Eyes meet, smiles exchanged, move on.

Lunnon is different. I have made a point of greeting one person in Devonshire Road, Palmers Green N13 every morning en route from the Newsagent, thus tackling the dense mob of commuters heading for the station. Anybody over 50 and not commuting will return the greeting; younger and invariably scowling at the pavement will ignore you, or at the best elevate scowl from pavement to somewhere over your left shoulder

Today my primary source material was an attractive young woman, beaming, smiling and chuckling; Ah! a cheery friendly person in a hostile world Level with her I said' What a beautiful morning' Too late I realised that the beams, smiles and chuckles were destined for an invisible contact a mobile call away-not a doddering personal space invader with a crumpled Guardian and an ingratiating smile. But at least she acknowledged my greeting once she had realised that it had come from me and not a passing mongrel, leg cocked against a lamppost-not, it must be said, with a 'good morning' or an 'Isn't it!'; nothing verbal in fact:

a turned back and a jabbing middle finger in my general direction.

What ever could she mean?


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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Go South Young Man as is Huttonian to escape the unnatural heat of Duns and indulge in some grand parenting

In the meanwhile you may enjoy this contribution from our youngest poet to the Anthology of Berwickshire Verse provisionally titled 'Spectres on the Landscape'

My Favourite Place

Swaying slowly in between the branches of the tree,
Back and forth on your swing,
Humming a sad song,
Next to where you were once sad, but now happy,
Leaves gently falling on your face,
The creamy yellowy sun glistens on the water,
The sparkling water trickles by,
The reeds sway in the breeze,
Where all your thoughts, worries and memories come back to you,
Just watching the water and nothing else.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Hutton Mill Grinds Slowly

Yes, it's Deja Vu all over again, again. Is Huttonian stupid or does the applicant for a new house at Hutton Mill think we have pathetic memories? Look at(Click on look at) And its not so long ago as the glance at my post of Monday, March 31, 2008 will show you-see here

Or are we missing something? And certainly what is missing from the map and from the application is any indication of the existing house originally built for the game keeper a few years back and for the same purpose as the bungalow now proposed. Weirder still -this seems to be a repeat of an application made just over a year ago and was subsequently withdrawn after a site visit by a planning officer who did not seem convinced that the manager/game keeper living in his bijou dwelling with a wonderful view of both the Whiteadder and the vulnerable Pheasants really needed a second official residence.

Another dead give away that all is not Kosher is revealed by the 'Neighbour Notification' section on the form. Three neighbouring farmers are duly notified but not the tenant of the existing managers house who lives about 100 yards from the site of the proposed new bungalow. Oh its not on the map so it can't exist; no notification necessary? Right.

Someone needs to find an up to date map with the existing house marked on it as well as the converted mill (now a self catering establishment) so as future bids for further concreting over an area of Special Scientific Interest are at least less economical with the actualitie. (as some one memorably said)

One hopes that the ever alert Hutton and Paxton Community Council will once again do its stuff

Stop Press-I now have seen a justification for a second keeper/manager/ resident fixer/greeter in support of the application here
Apparently the current guy is working more than seven days a week, 25 hours a day and needs reinforcement. Two full time managers for this business and on the spot as well? Its a pity that the original application omitted to make any such point and was basically a cut and paste job from the 2008 failed application. We remain unconvinced

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Lots of ex townees of my acquaintance, now moved to rural parts, still retain some of their urban fears about the wide open spaces and the denizens therein. I am most reluctant to enter a field in which there is a Bull however docile it appears to the casual bystander. After all 'Beware of the Bull' is put up for some good reason, presumably. And I have to confess I am not altogether comfortable when in too close vicinity to horses and cows. And especially cows with young. (Only a few days ago a woman was trampled to death by cows in Yorkshire as you can read here)

Hence my nervousness when some of the family taking a break from eating their way through the Wife's Big Birthday found ourselves in very close vicinity to a a bovine family group on the top of Duns Law. We had no dog with us, unlike the victim of the
Yorkshire fatality but the cows seemed over interested in the visiting bi-pods; its one thing having a small bird eying you up from a nearby branch but quite another having a large hunk of underdone beef breathing down your neck at very close quarters. Ar any moment a calf could have broken out of the ranks and we might well all have been squished by the pursuing stampede of anxious and single minded mothers.

On a whim (Diplomats are trained to deal with the unexpected with the unusual, or vice versa)I addressed the herd on behalf of the Scottish Nationalist Party as a contribution towards political awareness as a Westminster election looms. Large brown eyes glazed over and the rally dispersed as the audience went off in search of less intellectually demanding entertainment. I suspect any how that that they were Liberals at heart or it may have been that my simple message, albeit an ancient Merseian proverb, had struck home:

The Grass is Always Greener on the other side of Duns Law

(NO Townee of Transmere: the Black Cow is a Bull-not on Duns Law but in the Lammermuirs)

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Our motoring correspondent, Rhoda Hogg, has just sent this by pigeon post:

urgent news flash :

If driving down the section of the B6347 south of the Whitsome Hill crossroad with the B6461, beware a yellow and green tractor. This vehicle judders from side to side like any other indifferently driven agricultural vehicle in the Merse. If behind it do not attempt to overtake. If driving toward it, pray or hope that suddenly mounting the embankment will not scupper your vehicle’s underpinnings. The tractor driver is clamped to his mobile phone and unaware of the road ahead. This has happened twice in the past week. Third time……….

NB Military Traffic Reports of relevance to the B6461 and the Fishwick Bypass will now be semaphored in by Major Rhode-Ahead TD and Bar.Retd

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See Two Get One Free

This is good news for the Wife and the other supermarket eco warriors: here but of little immediate use to us in Duns. No Sainsbury's here and no prospect of one and I would have thought little possibility of the Coop following suit. The back of the Coop on Newtown Street effectively blocks the pavement every weekend with piles of packaging awaiting collection by the Environmental Hygienists on Monday. They still shove plastic bags at you at the checkout without fail but at least you can recycle them in the Borders unlike say Norn Iron where even envelopes have to go to land fill sites because of gum contamination.

One sad aspect of having see-into cereal containers will be the end of the excitement in tearing open the carton to see which of the Dinosaur set in tasteful green plastic you have 'won' or which Harry Potter character you still need to complete your set pops out with the Rice Crispies. No doubt Sainsbury's will be packed with school kids and Senior Citizens riffling through the cereals on offer hunting for the free gifts before parting with pocket money or pensions.

Saving the planet is all very well but not at the expense of taking the fun out of breakfast

And memo to Lord Sainsbury: if you really, really want to save the environment do something about your bloody trolleys. Photo essay here

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Sunday, June 21, 2009


Meeting the youngest daughter off the 1738 at Berwick we were greeted by a station announcement. The next train at Platform 1 (not the 1738, fortunately) is not stopping at this station. For your safety and for the sanity of our driver please keep back from the platform edge'

Apparently even the toughest and most laid back of that elite corps of train drivers employed in the East Coast Line are upset if they strike a waiting passenger as they roar through Berwick. One confirmed kill and they are off work on trauma leave for at least a month, rising by months in multiples of two. So many trains don't stop in Berwick that it must be a place that they whiz through at 100 mph with fingers crossed. Alnmouth will be the most dangerous place on the ECL as the trains stop about once a day but presumably a measure of compensation will be afforded by so few trains few prospective passengers.

Train spotters don't count. Occupational hazard.

Drivers may even get a bonus in these cases.

(The image is of a National Express East Coast crossing the Borders Bridge-wholly within England-preparatory to stopping at Berwick. Or Not; as the whim takes it)

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Saturday, June 20, 2009
Big Birthday

Today is the Wife's Big Birthday and most of the Nuclear Family are assembled. Blogging on temporary hold until hangovers have faded and the last post-Thai belches subsided

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Friday, June 19, 2009

CAN YOU EAT IN DUNS? asked a complete stranger accosting Huttonian in the Market Square. 'It is permissable-except during the Jim Clark Rally' I nearly replied but recognised a genuine Tourist- a capital T merited for a rara avis So I pointed out Hugos the new 'Wine Bar/Bistro/ Coffee Shop/ Place- to- be- seen -at, the Siamese Kitchen, Santoush, Black Bull etc etc. He asked about the sights? I told him. He seemed impressed. And surprised. 'The people at the Tourist Office in Kelso were a bit negative about Duns; so I nearly didn't come'

I asked him if he was on a Short Break Visit bearing in mind the slogan beloved of the VisitScotland marketing visionaries.

'Shortish' he said

Looking at his watch

(The image is dated: Hugo's is now the in the brownish building to the left of Cool Cuts-click to enlarge)

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chilling Out in the Post Office-or rather outside it

Huttonian understands that the main motivation in asking the Post Office to park its mobile thingee in the most exposed part of the village and not outside the Village Hall as at present was an 'understandable feeling' on part of the Hall Committee that the Post Office Highheidyins having done the village a bad turn in closing the post office can now expect no cooperation from the community

Making the point.


And now who will suffer from this fine gesture of civic minded cussedness.

Not the mobile Post Office person snug in her cab; not the Highheidyins in distant wherever who would dearly like an excuse for abandoning the service as being 'not wanted by the local stakeholders'

It is I fear the dwindling band of pensioners who are apparently still prepared to put up with some small local difficulties to get their money cash in hand as they have always done rather than flog into Berwick. If the Hall Committee really want to inconvenience them further (and Knowe's Close on a chilly November day with no relief facilities and no shelter is as inconvenient as it can get) then they are going about it the right way.

So why not open the Hall while the van is outside for just over two hours a week?
Official pretext : Have to pay too much extra insurance.


Might a whip round cover it? Good use if money from a Coffee morning

Huttonian is prepared to contribute

Positive Thinking seems called for.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Greeted by heavy rain all over the Small- House- in- Duns this morning I hastened to the BBC Blether Centre to enjoy the Weather Warnings at Ceefax 405. 'No Weather Warnings in Force in the UK' OK' switch to 401: Borders Region in a tasteful shade of green on the weather map : Patchy rain. Patchy Rain ? If this is patchy rain what is ordinary rain like? Patchy as raining only in Duns? The rest of the Merse balmy and arid? Switch to Borders Weather based in Greenlaw; 8 miles away. Gettable at

It has the odd combination of Light Rain and a STORM WARNING Pressure dropping like the proverbial stone By 13mb what ever that might mean. But raining so it is part of the Duns Patch.

Hutton had its own micro climate: dry, mostly-on a par with Dunbar which is the driest town in the UK. And very much dryer than its near neighbours in Paxton and Chirnside. Duns has the reputation of being wet but I notice that this month it has had exactly half the amount of rainfall than Greenlaw; hence patchy rain here and light rain in the ancient capital of Berwickshire. But our patchy rain has in a couple of hours equalled the total for the whole month so far.

And another thing: the BBC Weather gang have dumped their poets who used to compose those pages of fiction on Ceefax: No more whimsical Native American Chiefs : Broken Cloud, High Cloud and Light Mist and those occasional glimpses of Grudian type prognostications :

'Rain becoming Milk Later'

Bring back Mr Fish.

The Greenlaw site has a live webcam here This is fun as it updates every 5 secs. Nice image of a bedraggled pedestrian hurrying through the town, umbrella fending off light rain and gentle breeze- just at the corner of the turn off to Duns before the old Town hall. Press F5 and hey presto he has gone-to a dryer place one hopes. Left up the road to Duns?

To Patchy Rain and safety.

Or did the huge Timber Lorry filling the screen a couple of F5s later get him?

Hope not

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The Campbells Are Coming-Can see them a mile off

Tartan Codology has been taken to new heights-or plumbed new depths perhaps with the creation of a special outfit for 'Return to the Ridings' If you can bear it read about it here I suppose that at least this new creation can claim some Scottishness although tartans traditionally have had no connection with the Borders-being almost exclusively a Highland tribal skirmish recognition device. But now anyone can order their own tartan without having the slightest connection with Scotland. I am seriously thinking about investing in a Chinese woven Huttonian Tartan with matching accessories complete with free CD of traditional Borders' Airs: 'You'll take the 32 Bus and I'll ride Shanks Pony..and I'll be in Hutton afore thee..etc etc.

One feature of the new creation is it being made out of Retroreflective® yarn, which is designed to increase night-time safety, has minute glass beads and reflects light back to the source. Now that might catch on with revellers leaving the Cross Inn late at night with drink taken and wishing to avoid being struck down by a passing car; on the other hand I fear it will lead to a rash of new sightings of USOs Unidentified Staggering Objects- anyone seeing a glowing green figure, lit up in both senses of the word, shimmering towards him in dark down town Paxton at 2 am is going to reach for his mobile and disturb the slumbers of the Berwickshire News Cub Reporter.

Hold the third page.

Its nice and appropriate that the model for this new tartan is a woman. If she was to examine the traditions of the Common Ridings she would find that until recently the distaff side were long discouraged if not actually banned from taking part in the ride outs. OK being a Reiver but his Lass was better off 'at Hame'

doing the dishes.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

for budding Borders' Poets as the anthology of Berwickshire verse is nearly complete. Some amazing talent has surfaced and not all the stuff is deadly serious. Asked for an iconic image of the county some one has suggested not Coldingham Bay, St Abbs Head, Fishwick By-Pass, B6461, Greenlaw Town Hall or even Duns Castle but a pile of dog pooh. Not to worry the Editor would not stoop so low (except, in extremis, with a pooper scooper) However one of the poets has suggested this:



read the notice

and in smaller letters:

‘Owners of offending dogs.
You have been warned!’

‘That should do the trick’
said the large man
with a baseball hat’.
putting another shell
into his shotgun.
stepping carefully over
the spent cartridges
the corpses

(There were some dead dogs
as well).

‘I sometimes think
that the chairman
of the Community Council
takes his duties too seriously’


the lady with the pooper scooter
and the bullet proof

Its in the pending tray

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Sunday, June 14, 2009


Lairds were fairly heavy handed in the 18th century in these parts-as I learned from an 'Observer' as I was buying a 'Scotsman on Sunday' at Nairns this morning. Apparently the nearby village of Gavinton has just celebrated the 250th anniversary of its foundation by a gentleman called Gavin. He had just bought Langton House in 1758 and (as you can read more fully here The interesting bit is as follows

"Learning that the estate of Langton was in the market, David Gavin purchased it in 1758 and decided that his new house should overlook Langton Glen. Unfortunately the dilapidated cottages which had huddled under the protecting walls of the old castle were a blot on the landscape. But a wealthy financier had potent magic at his command. He waved his wand; a new village (to be called Gavinton in his honour) appeared on the crest of the Crimson or Crimstane Hill half a mile away, and the cottagers “flitted” up the brae. The ancient hamlet of Langton was razed to the ground and the historic tower demolished. The new owner of Langton was no dilettante country gentleman however and he soon set about improving the land, giving it the benefit of the marl that was plentiful on the estate end of the line, which he transported from Northumberland. As a result, the rental that had been £1100 when he came to Langton rose to upwards of £3000 by 1773.

So at one stroke he improved his new property, got rid of the eyes sores and the 'poisonous little Nimbies' they sheltered and just about trebled his income. What an example for the twenty first Century Lairds to emulate. Any one wanting to be 'flitted up the Brae' should look around Berwickshire for potential flitters; TD15 might do. In that case:

some one might be tempted to start with, say, Paxton.

(Thank you Chris Maginn for the images of two ancient maps-showing Langton House just after the offending yokels has been flitted and the location of present day Gavinton)

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing: -"Oh, how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade.
Rudyard Kipling, "The Glory of the Garden"

Duns is not England nor is the Old Manse but the late Mr K knew a thing or two about gardening and the results of not sitting in the shade (aka shivering in the Borders Sun) are all around us in the small garden in the Small House in Duns. Our soft fruit will never match the abundance of Hutton but it is good to see the first berries appear in an area which a couple of months ago was best grade Northumberland gravel since freecycled away

This summer's theme is Purple-attracts the honey bees who are back this year after being absent last and the butterflies.

Thomas Edward Brown put it:

. My Garden

A GARDEN is a lovesome thing, God wot!
Rose plot,
Fringed pool,
Fern'd grot—
The veriest school
Of peace; and yet the fool
Contends that God is not—
Not God! in gardens! when the eve is cool?
Nay, but I have a sign;
'Tis very sure God walks in mine.

(Our fringed pool is next on the list)

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Friday, June 12, 2009

A tucked away little paragraph in the Berwickshire which you can read here about the latest trial and tribulation to befall the Hutton Post Office-now in Hutton, mails on wheels, two hours a week Monday and Friday dinner times. Apparently it has been suggested by the Hutton Hall Management committee that the 'mobile unit' no longer park itself outside the village hall but in the little housing estate, Knowe's Close just up from the 'main' street. More convenient for the pensioners, apparently.Better parking as well it is claimed

Nothing to do with Huttonian anymore but I think the Hutton Hall Committee has got this a bit skewed. Much more helpful would be to have their hall open with its facilities including loos for the hour that the van is there thus providing shelter for the mostly elderly customers only one of whom is allowed in the 'mobile unit' at any one time for 'health and safety reasons'. After all the Post Office used to be in the hall and parking there (for the very few who come by car from outside the village)is certainly easier than at Knowes Close.

No decision apparently has been taken but assuming that the 'stake holders' (here there be Vampires?) agree to the change we have the prospect of in winter of the pensioners having to form a cross legged line in the howling waste land of Knowe's Close, a very exposed location, with no comfort facilities available. Mind you there is one advantage when the weather is clement-the play ground is there so there is some thing fun to do on the slides and swings when waiting your turn to do your postal business. 'Come down of the slide Missus, your pension is ready.'

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Silly Season in the Berwickshire News kicks off with the front page headline:

'Asked Passerby for way to Station (No I made that last bit up) Read all about it here

This is an old story. Nothing to do with either Big Jim or the Laird I hasten to add. Dave the Paper who used to have encounters of the first kind with Berwickshire wild life on his newspaper round including colliding with what he described as a 'Bambi' twice spotted a Panther, once near Hutton. See here and scroll down One sighting appears to be of a creature smaller than a panther although, apparently, bigger than a dog

Anyhow I post an image of a Capybara-one of the possibilities mentioned in the article. Now that Dave the Paper has. sadly, given up his round, it is safe to roam the byways of Berwickshire-as long as it avoids the B6461 and the Fishwick By Pass. It should know that the Hutton Mobile Post Office is changing its round-see tomorrows post-so the Beast can safely lurk around the Hutton Village Hall at noons on Mondays and Fridays

The other possibility three foot high, not a wolf, mottled, dark belly etc etc sounds like the ill favoured dog which used to lay big turds in the garden of the Old Manse; yes, yes, I know the witness said it was bigger than a dog-this was a large dog (and large turds) and bigger than

a smaller dog
(Chihuahua versus St Bernard; if you see what I mean)

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hirsel Warning
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Playing at Duns (MPBUI_) to day I overheard a guy talking in glowing terms about the Coldstream Golf Club at the Hirsel. Obviously a member he was comparing his course with the inadequacies of Duns-something to do I suspect with going twice into the burns at the front and rear of the short 15th. 'Double Trouble' as it is called. 'Not a fair hole ' he said; would not do for the Hirsel.

'And do you know' he asked the expectant world around the bar 'a golfing magazine called the Hirsel 'The Augusta of the Borders!. There's an endorsement for you!'

' So what has Coldstream in common with Augusta?' asked a some what sceptical bystander ' Has it got lots of flowers and flowering shrubs?
' Well not exactly but it has lots of, er,


A bit like Duns

The Hirsel of TD11?

There's an endorsement for you

The image is a notice on the first 9 at Coldstream. I am never quite sure what to expect at this point. Other courses warn you about the danger of balls but golfers.......?

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009


The vote against a repeat of the Jim Clark Rally in Duns next year seems to be settling down as follows:

Would you like to see the Duns stage of the Jim Clark Rally repeated next year?
Yes [28.3%]
No [71.6%]
Don't Know [0.1%]

(why do the 'don't knows' bother to vote one wonders?)I suspect the habitual voters are back to more vital topics such as should Berwick be part of Berwickshire although the Duns Poll remains THE ISSUE in the Berwickshire News.

Not that the organisers will take a blind bit of notice of any expression of public opinion unless it is in their favour

In the meanwhile the Hutton Think Tank (Rally, Roadworks and Bike Section) have suggested a novel stage for next year, instead of abusing Duns : 'The B6461 Scramble
(A) Close the B6461
(B) Half the cars start at one end the others from the other ( junction with Berwick By Pass)
(C) Simultaneous start from each end
(D) Winner is the car that travels the furthest distance before the race is stopped for health and safety reasons

Fun! And folk in Duns can stroll their streets in safety

Mr Pagan : Over to you

(Thank you 4_hero of Flickr for the image. Not much the driver could do about that one?)

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Monday, June 08, 2009
The Song of the Borders Road

On the Today programme someone was pushing his book on the romance of the mundane British road. Why did we have no glamorous Route 66 or a Bob Dylan to sing about a Highway 61?

"Oh God said to abraham kill me a son
Abe said man you must be puttin me on
God said no, abe said what
God say you can do what you wanna but
The next time you see me comin you better run
Well abe said where dyou want this killin done
God said out on highway 61"
(Highway 61 Revisited)

Well you have got to start somewhere-if Chesterton could do it on the Rolling English Road;
Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

So can we:
The Hutton Think Tank, Songs, Psalms and Paraphrases Section are offering a major prize (Two weeks in Whitsome) for the best lyrics about a Berwickshire Highway; their main frame computer Big Mac has chosen one by random. B6461. So get scribbling. You know the sort of thing: Havering On will suggest the backing

On the B6461,
Where Milk Lorries ply their trade,
And White Man Van,
And Tractor Dan
collide with a foul tirade

On the B6461
Big Jim* is justifying expenses
His greatest Ally
The Jim Clark Rally
has done for most of his fences.

(with a change of metre)

On the B6461
Where the speed limit is just a suggestion
the dilatory wanker, the 14 wheeled tanker, the 32 Bus
All holding up us
Not conducive to a healthy digestion

* The Councillor responsible for roads and irresponsible for the highest mileage claim)

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Sunday, June 07, 2009
An indignant from Embra writes to the Editor of the Berwickshire:

SIR, - It beggars belief that a village of at one time the sane and rational, seems to have been taken over by egostistical maniacs who have ideas well above the journeyed plan of life.
I have dealt with the folly of a railway station, I have to let that go now.
Once that fad dies away, in comes the next stage in the stupidity stakes.
Building houses in the middle of a credit crunch, not one or two, but 112. Why? The property market is in decline. This in a village of 300 residents.

Happy spot not specified but Huttonian assumes this is Reston, of bring- back- our- station- fame. Has the writer, sane and rational, moved out of there leaving only the insane and irrational to dream of doubling the size of their little empire-thus, perhaps, meriting a station?

And I really love the wonderful new epithet : 'egostistical'; as Google would say 'Do you mean Egostatistical'? Some one like the late and sadly missed Soddom Hussein who used to boost about Election Polls which demonstrated that once again he had been returned with 100.6% of the vote

Country strife should get that onto her Scrabble Board

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Jim Clark Rally. PS

Huttonian is reluctant to bang on about the JCR and its 'great success' in disrupting life in Duns but he has to mention the sad case of one restaurateur whose business is just off the market square. She, in anticipation of a profitable weekend (as she had before enjoyed in Kelso in a previous establishment) laid on extra staff and imported more exotic food. Bookings for the weekend were excellent from visitors to the Rally. On the day before it started she happened to have one of the organisers eat in her restaurant. He asked if she had seen the programme which she hadn't (a snip at £5) Well he said you will have to close all Saturday for your safety and most of Friday night. She pointed out that she had lots of reservations; they will have to be in your place before 6pm and can't leave until after midnight. But I tell you what you can do-set up a stall in the street market and sell stuff that way. Oh I assume this is a form of compensation for effected businesses? Not exactly, it will cost you £300.

She is still estimating the cost of business lost. Many cancellations and the rest she had to turn away and the extra staff paid of as well. No one had contacted her before hand to warn her of the disruption closing the street in which she had her premises-the event went past her door- nor had she felt the need to buy the Souvenir Programme having no interest in motor sport. The Berwickshire with its list of effected roads came out the day before the Rally.

She has suggested compensation from the organisers.

Will she get it?

If you are going to hold your breath I suggest you get

a ventilator

(The image is of one of the cars roaring through Duns at night-no doubt just passed the restauramt in question half a second before)

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Friday, June 05, 2009
Bring in the Lumberjack; its ok

Back in the Borders-just in time to catch the latest Berwickshire News and to see that some things don't change including the Laird's attempts to add to his housing stock in greater Paxton. Having had his application for two bijou dwellings turned down on several occasions and even on appeal to the Scottish Executive he has managed to have the case reopened as reported here

It seems that one of the previous objections to the houses was that it would mean that some trees would have been cut down to allow them to be built. Or in Planning Speak :building on the land would result in "the loss of a woodland resource."

Quick Action by the Laird:

"To counteract this the nearby spruce trees were cut down in January".

Objection : Don't cut down trees to build houses

Trees cut down: Objection overruled

Odd that;

or am I missing something

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Thursday, June 04, 2009
A Six of the Best

Back Merse wards today. One image to take with me. Empty course, not a human in sight; 15th tee; huge drive-and as I was admiring its flight towards the distant green, enter, stage right, at great speed, a green keeper on his metal steed. For one dreadful moment I thought my ball was about to end a brilliant career in the agro-golf business as it seemed to be on a collision course with the tractor. It glanced the side of the vehicle and bounded on. The machine came to a stop and showed no signs of moving as I covered the 270 yards or so towards it. Driver knocked unconscious? Traumatised by near miss. Apoplectic with rage? I hastened to explain my failure to shout 'Fore!'-he had come from nowhere. He looked at me a bit sternly. 'Are you a member?' 'I am' 'In that case Great shot'

And drove into the sun rise.

A bit shaken and not a little stirred.

I scored a six.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Come into the Allotment Maud

I don't know why I find this letter in the Berwickshire irritating:

SIR, - Those of us who live here but were not fortunate enough to have been born in Scotland are all too aware of the debt we owe Scotland; for the comfort afforded by the waterproof, invented by McIntosh, the astonishing discovery of radar by Sir Robert Watson-Watt, for the sublime sartorial swimwear that is “Speedo” by Alexander McRae, also the invaluable, but torture-some tool that is logarithms, formalised by John Napier, for these, and haggis of course, to name only a particle of our debt to you, we non-Scots thank you.
Now it is time for us to bring north, across the border, a little something of our own, to you; with the advance of global warming, the Scottish climate no longer requires that Scots stay indoors creating inventions of genius, you can come outdoors and we will introduce you to the world of allotments.
The Eyemouth Allotments Society is impoverished by the lack of native Eyemouth people and indeed Scots, so please, let us show you what growing your own food is like, how the whole family can join in, where an allotment site can become a mini-community and where we share our efforts, expertise and know-how, only don't expect us to keep up with you Scots on the technical stuff!
For more information about allotments in Eyemouth, please contact (name concealed for Human Rights reasons but available with contact details in the Berwickshire)

It may be that I find it puzzling that anyone feels the needs to be apologetic about not being born in Scotland. What is that to do with anything? If it was the norm to be born in Scotland the Borders could be unpleasantly overcrowded. Moreover Huttonian was not born there nor was Dr Crippen,Sir Donald Bradman, Jean Paul Satre, the inventor of the tooth brush, William Shakespeare and the woman who designed the first darning needles. On Scottish inventions Speedo has done nothing for me and there is no evidence that a Scot invented the toilet seat*. As for allotments-are they really a novelty in Scotland? They certainly have existed in Embra for yonks.And why grow your own veg anyhow and thus risk putting the Green Shop out of business

Patronising guff if you ask me.

But you probably wont

(* Thought to have been an Irish invention in 16 something. 50 years later an Englishman put a hole in it)

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

As Others See Us

Royal County Down (PBUI) is often the subject of much (critical) comment because of its alleged exclusivity and snobbery; One interesting article which catches some of the atmosphere of the place is here Although I have never been offered dandruff by the club manager. When I first joined the club at the age of 14 I had to change in the Ladies Club house next door-for fear of disturbing whom I have no idea-16 I was allowed to join the men. Women never darkened our doors except for Sunday lunch and when the Curtis Club was played there in the 1950s the US and British women golfers were made honorary men so as they could use the facilities in the men's clubhouse rather than the shack which passes (and still does) for the lady members, Visitors changed in a sort of Nissen hut and were not allowed in to the Clubhouse unless closely accompanied by a member and then only if wearing a jacket and tie. Many other Irish courses had notices which said that members of other golf clubs welcome except those from Newcastle, County Down.

All is now changed. A new purpose built wing for visitors; a spike bar where you can forger your tie and jacket; women guests welcome and anyone with £155 to spare is able to play.
But one thing has not changed; we reckon that Royal County Down is the No 1 course in Ireland: it is generally reckoned to be; Number one or at a pinch on a bad day, Two, in the British Isles: See for example here; Number One in the World?

Well actually it is apparently Number Two.


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Monday, June 01, 2009

Trent Park
Originally uploaded by erase
The senior granddaughter in the pre-Olympics, Ultra Teenie Class, at Trent Park training arena. One wonders if the number on her hat is a licence to half-kill someone
She certainly looks determined enough; a fine horsewoman in the making

Thank you junior son-in law for the images.

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