Musings from the Merse
Friday, July 31, 2009
Glitz and glamour of movies at Manderston is the banner on Page one of the Berwickshire-full story here Manderston has been a favourite film location -big and small screen for some years but it is not the only Berwickshire movie location.

No one may* remember the ill starred local epic 'GONE WITH THE WYND produced by the media division of the Hutton Think Tank. Filmed almost entirely in Duns and on the B6470 it was the story of a local tearaway Boy Racer who having served three ABSOs came good, is elected Duns Reiver and at the Summer Festival meets a local benefactor (part to be offered to Richard E Grant) who buys him a Formula One car and he, inevitably, wins the World Championship beating the late Jim Clark into second place. With this under his belt he woos and wins a local film star ( envisaged to be played by Tilda Swinton) and lives happily ever afterward in Gourlays Wynd (hence the title)

Sadly the film never reached Cannes, or anywhere else, as in the middle of the shoot, the hero played by a genuine local boy racer, absconded with the car and was never heard of again. (Until recent rumours linked him with police enquires in Columbia)

Sad really

(* 'will' not 'may' Blog ed)

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rig Rigged?

The news that the Fallago Rig wind farm is likely to go ahead despite very strong local opposition and without the re-opening of a public enquiry has proved a confetti storm of letters to the Berwickshire as below:

Sir, - My anger at the abuse of the democratic process by the Scottish Government over the Fallago Rig wind farm has now turned to dismay as Scottish Borders Council are not seemingly pushing for the re-opening of the public inquiry.
Such are the changes in circumstances in the Lammermuir Hills with new wind farms now on line and new applications granted that it is a travesty that the chief executive’s office is apparently more concerned about cost than due processes of democracy.
As Returning Officer for local elections across all levels of government the chief executive, David Hume, is very well aware of the huge costs involved in elections.
Recommending against the relatively tiny costs of representation in a reopened public inquiry would be an insult to the democracy that he has a duty to protect.

The MOD has now apparently dropped its objection to the new set of Turbines despite previously anxious and apparently well documented claims that they could interfere with the air defence radar system; always remembering that the area is one used by low flying aircraft So what has happened to change minds amongst the Top RAF Brass? Have the developers offered some inducements and /or some Mr Big is leaning on them in the interest of increased corporate profits;

The chairman of the local community council as angry as Mrs H, has commented in another letter:

The news that the MoD is dropping its objection to the Fallago Rig wind farm development is a devastating blow to the Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus Community Council.
When British soldiers and Afghani civilians are being killed on the premise of protecting national security it seems ludicrous to compromise national security at home on the basis of an unproven and untested solution to the problems of radar interference to the national air defence system.
The evidence presented by the MoD at the Inquiry in objection to the development was incontrovertible and sustained under detailed cross-examination

Mr Big? Or Duke of Big? Cherchez le Laird I hear you cry-as indeed does a third correspondent:

Duke of Roxburghe is seeking to impose a massive 144MW wind farm development of 48 125m high wind turbines on the local community at Fallago Rig in the Lammermuir Hills.
Not only would this be contrary to the views of the local community, the findings of a Public Local Inquiry, and against the views of both affected local authorities, but it has been the subject of secretive discussions between the developers, their lobbyists, the MOD and the turbine-mad Scottish Government ever since the Public Inquiry closed.
This Duke’s development would irreparably blight area of great landscape value so dramatic that it inspired Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermuir. As in the opera, there is much madness in the Lammermuirs at present.

This is fast becoming an opera indeed. Not comic but darkly tragic. Come on Mr Gilbert and Mr Sullivan we have the plot

how about the music?

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Huttonian has been reminded of the advice given by the RAF liaison officer at a Community Council Meeting some years ago-the post immediately below has some relevance

Low Flying Aircraft

"What do you advise?" Earnestly
asked the Chairman.

Some of our senior citizens are
Frankly terrified.

And our cows are dropping
their calves like Billy O

"What do you say to sweet Mrs Renton
Half way to the mobile post office?

Caught in the open when the F16
Comes out of the sun"

"What do you say Wing Commander?
Short succinct and to the point

But with a hint of comfort for
The barmy old Bat?"

In a word said Winco


Attrib: Frank Renton (Florit 1998)

(These F16s if seen over Duns are a bit off course: Singapore Airforce)

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Per Ardua in your Astra

Yesterdays Road Flash, warmed up for today but still relevant:

Regular users of the B6437 will be heartened to know how seriously SBC takes the grooming of its street furniture. A mile or so W of Swinton a dedicated SBC team of 2 plus large wagon were seen in the vicinity of a traffic sign which one of them was cleaning to within an inch of its life. Nice to see the highways team has its priorities in place.
Rhoda Hogg

Its not the B6437 which is problematical today but the Duns airspace. Usually the low flying aircraft avoid built up areas (down town Hutton always excepted) but there must be a major exercise on this morning with Market Square as a secondary target, Its no good making a fuss about such things; the Hutton and Paxton Community Council was advised by a RAF liaison officer to take the registration number of any fighter flying under 200 feet and if you can identify the Pilot's eye colour that would be a bonus.

Its all Defence of the Realm stuff. Who knows the Taliban may infiltrate the Lammermuirs if they are driven out of Helmand. Can't take risks with National Security and anyone growing Poppies could have problems.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009
OXYMORON # 432 Gentleman Golfer

Today's Scottish Review carries an article here on one of Alba's greatest sons and a golfing giant all but forgotten by the modern Scottish golfer. How one wishes that some of the players at Duns Golf Club (MPBUI)had a tenth of the instinctive courtesy of 'Gentleman' John Panton. Take this morning. Out at 8 to be well ahead of the Cardiac Three we were minding our own business approaching the 13th Green when two balls in quick succession came over the blind summit landed on the spot we had just vacated. Good long drives but hit without any thought of possible consequences and before we had time to bang the bell to indicate that the fairway had cleared. 'Send not out to ask for whom the bell tolls. It nearly tolled for us' I should have said to the two geezers who stood in a marked many glaring in our general direction as we putted out. We drove off at the 14th and then waited to allow them through 'Please play through' I said' We will feel much safer that way' No reaction; certainly not a thanks; they had their due for being better golfers in a hurry and no more.

I said before they drove off that they would find our balls on the fairway. In the middle as it happened.

Not impressed indicating that we might find their balls on the green.

I am delighted to report that they didn't find their balls at all. The field to the right of the fairway swallowed them up.

WE walked on shouting as we walked past their frantic efforts to look for the buried Titleist 2s 'Do you mind if we play on?'

Grunts and muffled curses did not reach us against the wind.

They did not bother us again.

May still be there.

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Monday, July 27, 2009
BLand Beith Dismisseth us

Sir Alan Beith, our nearest cross- the- border MP has complained that the Parliamentary summer break is too long as you can read here Not to worry plenty of time to catch up with constituency business. So it was very good to see him, yesterday evening, attending to Foreign Affairs issues across the wild frontier at the closing night of the Paxton Music Festival. He may have even been able to tack on some business with constituents as well as soak up the culture.

He is not Huttonian's MP and my only dealings with him have been fleeting and unsatisfactory. I once tackled him about the appallingly off hand, uncaring and insensitive treatment that two of our very elderly friends received at the Berwick Infirmary in a ward dedicated(is that the right word) to geriatrics. One of whom died there the other, passed away shortly after he had been shunted down to Northumberland with (as it happened) a few hours to live. Sir A (then plain Mr A) listened to my pitch and indicated that he found it most surprising and positively unconvincing: " My mother had excellent treatment there" And that, seemingly, was that. Treated the MP's mother well! There's a surprise for you.

He ended by saying that if I insisted I could write to him. But it as was clear from his demeanour which of his letter trays mine would end up in.

Did I bother?

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Sunday, July 26, 2009
No Winnie but lots of Pooh

Sunday's Guest column is contributed by a regular bloggee

Love Thy Neighbour.

I abhor the pair next door.
Their dog quartet's disgusting.
These pesky hounds befoul the grounds
The patio encrusting.
They never take their dogs for walks
Or play with them at all.
They're left alone for hours and hours
With not a toy to maul.
All through the night they bark and bark
So sleep is all forgotten.
A way to treat your neighbours?
I call that pretty rotten.
On Sundays do they disappear
To go unto the kirk
To top up their self-righteousness
With such a sleekit smirk.
Love thy neighbour's not a thing
The practise any week
So the rest of us are Christians who turn the other cheek.
And now, hurrah,they've all moved on
Fresh pastures for to smear
And just a pile of doggy poop
To tell us they lived here.

Apologies to Thomas Hood.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009
Borders Bikers Beware

Cyclists visiting the Borders should exercise extreme care as this news item from the Berwickshire indicates:

ACCIDENT to Mrs Harvie - While cycling home wards last week Mrs Harvie sustained a nasty accident. We understand she had not been cycling previous to this for a considerable time. As she was approaching Longformacus, and going down hill, she was met by the nurse from the manse, who had gone out to meet her. The nurse, it would appear, was cycling also, and seeing Mrs Harvie approaching turned her bicycle, and cycled on in front. On overtaking the nurse the bicycles collided, and Mrs Harvie was thrown to the ground. Her face was cut and the wound had to be stitched.

The hills around Longformacus are not to be trifled with when on two wheels.

And the same applied at the time of this accident

July 1909.

Since you ask

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Friday, July 24, 2009

When Huttonian first started blogging (in pure innocence and naive ignorance of the consequences) he did so as he felt the 'ordinary villager' needed a voice, often reluctant to speak up against the diktats of the local 'establishment'-the highheidyins of the Village Hall Committee and the Kirk Elders, interchangeable in many cases. We have a classic case at this moment-the strange one of the (potentially) disappearing post office in which Huttonian feels a nostalgic almost proprietorial interest as a former sub post master. As keen bloggees from recent posts will know and as again reported in the Berwickshire's account of the last meeting of the Hutton and Paxton Community Council-you'll need to fork out 65p on the hard copy, not available on line-the Hall Committee has formally asked that the mobile PO not to park outside the Village Hall during its two weekly visits to Hutton, one hour each Monday and Friday. Thus pensioners (and we are now talking about a maximum of 7 regular elderly customers)will lose any chance of sheltering within the Hall in bad weather waiting for access to the van or using the facilities as they used to when the office was in the hall itself. Parking in Knowe's Close, up the hill, beside the parking area may be more convenient being nearer to most of the pensioner's homes but damned inconvenient (no urinal pun intended)when it is cold and wet and you need to go, as it were.

Having talked to some of those affected it appears that the VHC have cited, inter alia, additional' insurance costs' should they have to open the building for an extra two hours a week (not apparently a factor when the PO was under the roof)and a possible clash with funerals flooding the car park and making it impossible for the van to position itself as usual. On the Richter Scale of spurious reasons these two must rank pretty high. The buzz on the (deathly silent) street is that this is purely an act of revenge on the PO establishment for closing the Post Office and a defiant statement of non cooperation. Great. But who suffers? The Post Office Establishment? They will terminate the service at the first defensible pretext: the village does not want us so farewell! No its the customers; a few hardy and some very elderly souls who really need the facility and given that the Village Hall Trust exists to serve the community, they now appear to be falling down on the job-out of pique.

I asked some of my contacts in the village who are unhappy at this decision why don't they say something? The Hall Committee members are all well known and for the most part accessible. Its the usual response-we don't want to make a fuss-heads are kept so low around there that a parapet is not necessary. Nor has the Community Council taken a position. Shame. Someone needs to try and put matters right before the village loses the only remaining amenity and those few surviving pensioners who like cash in hand are obliged to trudge into Berwick; much further than the Village Hall.
And if there really are additional insurance costs (which I doubt) then let us see what can be done about them. I suspect they would not be high and a coffee morning proceeds could probably absorb them for several years.

Apparently the Post Office is asking for comments on the enforced move to Knowe's Close: 08457 223344. But on protesting to them you are really talking to the

wrong people

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

I think Mr Albert R must be getting a bit rattled at the reaction to his application to build a second home for his manager/gillie/clerk of works/stalker/refuse collector next to his first house at Hutton Castle Mill as he has burst into print again-see
here This time it appears that Mr Gillie is to remain where he is and to be bumped by Mr R's grandson studying Environmental and Countryside Management at Aberdeen who now needs a permanent home on the banks of the Whiteadder so as he can study the countryside at close quarters and keep a watchful eye on the Peregrine falcons via a web camera broadcasting to the known world. In addition he has to be in site 24/7 (apart of course from attending his studies up North)to manage the lade course (water channel leading up to the old mill wheel which was supposed to be restored under a previous planning application but hasn't)now to be converted into a 'water based wild life sanctuary' and also the management of ten badger sets who are apparently quite incapable of looking after themselves. On top of this daunting work load someone has to empty the wheelie bins and take other recyclables into Berwick; not to mention find time for a drink at the Cross. Although it is not clear whether it is the 20 year old grand son or the gillie already on site who has to do this.

In support of his application the tireless Mr R has produced an ancient image of the old Hutton Castle Mill complex to demonstrate that the new buildings are to be on the site of an existing building block; admittedly one which was mostly destroyed by the big flood of 1948 and the badly damaged buildings (apart from the mill) subsequently bulldozed into the Whiteadder. The fact that it has been a countryside agricultural area ever since is rather glossed over. And the thought that perhaps, only perhaps, there might be another flood (it is a flood plain after all) seems not to have occurred.

If this unrecycled garbage (npi) gets through the Planners I am a Dutchman.

But with bitter experience of the inanities of the Berwickshire Area Committee

I am learning Dutch

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Move Over Nelson. You're History

I don't know why I do it-and I am not sure I should thank Town Mouse for making me aware of this link here but it is totally compulsive and a complete time waster.

Perhaps Anthony Gormley, a northerner by inclination, might consider a similar project in the Borders; possibly a plinth on the Paxton Village green, or in the Market Square in Duns to encourage local exhibitionists to enjoy their hour of fame. It would be a great platform for Mr Ritchie the self proclaimed acting Regent for Stuart Scotland. Raising his profile a bit.There might have to be local ground or above the ground rules; the market square can be a windy place and I suggest a No Kilts policy. The true Scot is not always equipped to display his credentials impressively especially on a not much of a demand basis. The Angel of the North has the air of a flasher with an outspread overcoat but we don't want to encourage the real thing

AS it happens there was a kilted Scot on the plinth earlier today with a cut out model of his family and not much to say apart from listening to him on his mobile to his mum.

Riveting it wasn't. But with only one hour per plinther, boredom is unlikely to be a problem

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The Hutton Effect

Here we were in Duns moaning about the appalling weather and all nostalgic for the lazy hazy summer days of a Hutton summer, dry and balmy as the rain poured down on the Paxton road just beyond the 30mph limit. We are now slightly more reconciled to our new habitat thanks to the current Old Manseians who have very kindly sent Huttonian this image of some of the apple trees partially stripped of fruit and in one case almost uprooted by the fierce winds of last week. All that the feebler Duns hurricane could come up with was removing the metal hood from the steel chimney jutting out of the roof from the wood burning stove and conveying it goodness knows where. No sign in the garden or in the house next door. Fortunately the garden at the S-H-i-D
is very sheltered and our tiny new fruit trees escaped unscathed-both apples still intact on one.

Anyone in greater Duns who comes across the chimney hood and/or scattered remains of Friday's Gurdian blasted out of the recycling bag is welcome to keep the latter

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Cometh the Flood; Buildeth the Ark

It appears that the proposed building over the area next to Hutton Castle Mill-the second home for the resident gillie-is running into further bother with a letter of objection from the Scottish Environmental Agency (SEPA) as you can read here

This is all about the flood risk and the great flood of 1948 which carried away some of the buildings around the mill and swept away a couple of bridges down stream. However the Head of Technical Services writing about the flood problems offers some comfort:

In terms of information that this Council has concerning flood risk to this site, I would state that The Indicative River & Coastal Flood Map (Scotland) known as the “second generation flood mapping” prepared by SEPA indicates that the northern part of the site is at risk from a flood event with a return period of 1 in 200 years. That is the 0.5% annual risk of a flood occurring in any year.

Thus with the great flood of 48 and several less severe inundations since, go on,one might say, take a risk, it won't happen for another 200 years- and assuming that the Gillie is an experienced betting man he could well go for it. But if he is a very experienced betting man he just might pause for thought-next year is inside the '200 year flood risk envelope' as the SEPA guy puts out so why put both your homes at risk?

SEPA does not have much clout I fear. The existing house was given planning permission despite an identical risk assessment as was the project to convert the mill into self catering accommodating.

On present form it is sad to say that with both SEPA and the Community Council against the application it has a reasonable (ie completely unreasonable) chance of success. Much will depend on which way Big Jim will jump.

Just a thought. If Mr Noah, formerly of Ararat, now of Belmarsh was to make a formal application to build an Ark down there how would he fare? Anticipation of a Flood would chime well with SEPA advice but I am not sure that the new Local Plan has provision for mobile buildings of this sort (unless containing chickens as at Hutton Castle Barns-and only two in the case of the Ark) Sites of Special Religious Interest (SSRI)are not recognised by SBC Planners.

Come on Planners think outside the box (or Ark) for a change A Gillie's Ark, able to float out of trouble by 2209 if necessary is an idea worth pursuing should the current application fail.

What do you think Albert R?

Worth a shot?

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Monday, July 20, 2009

If you go here you will see that the Borders is about to become a Mecca for cyclists. They are very thin on the ground at the moment-like all other forms of transportation and I have yet to see more than one cyclist a week on the Tweed Cycle Track or whatever it is called.

The caption to the image above runs as follows:

CYCLING INITIATIVE: Steven Troup from Alpine Bikes in Innerleithen and model, Joni MacKay, recreate the classic Jack Vettriano painting “Lazy Hazy Days” to launch a £100,000 initiative aimed at showcasing the Scottish Borders as a leisure cycling destination.

Verb Sap The Fuzz may not be too apparent on our deserted roads but I should advise visiting cyclists to avoid the style adopted by the two models-' Riding without due care and attention' would be the least of the charges' bought against such obvious offenders

As you will see the article goes on :

"Already popular with mountain bikers, the region is also home to host of road cycle routes from way-marked distance trails such as the 250 mile Borderloop to a network of short circular town trails ideal for day trippers.

The obsession of the tourist highheidyins with short visits to the Borders continues unabated. Its only worth a day trip; bring your bike; nothing else to do.

Certainly it is easy to recreate lazy hazy days around these parts;

particularily hazy in the dreich

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Sunday, July 19, 2009
Cringe, Alba Cringe

This is the time of the year that the asylums let the inmates out for the silly season on summer furlough and supply them with the wherewithal to write to the Berwickshire:

SIR,- I watched a few minutes of the Andy Murray tennis match at Wimbledon recently and saw one spectator waving the Saltire rather sheepishly. She gave the impression of being an intruder!
If there is a strange Wimbledon rule prohibiting the Scottish flag from being displayed, then may I suggest that supporters conceal the flag under their shirts and blouses; the authorities cannot frisk everybody!
It is frustrating and that is putting it mildly, to think that the people of Scotland and SNP have allowed the English - British - to politically hijack Mr Murray for their own political ends.
Even the score board shows an Union flag! Yes a Union flag and the words GBR, yes GBR.
Why is that you have not ensured that he represents Scotland and proudly displays the Scottish flag on the scoreboard with a clear reference to Scotland?
What he is doing, whether he realises it or not is showing his support for Unionism and therefore contempt for Scottish independence and by association, the SNP.
By allowing this to happen you have allowed the British establishment to dictate the agenda.
Please be good enough to arrange change via Scottish media and etc for next year and ensure that the rest of Britain and the world sees the Saltire flag being waved enthusiastically, being worn on T-shirts, on hats; on everything and consequently illustrate that you and the Scottish people are earnest about independence.

I wonder why this expat Scot a burden on the long suffering Dorset Tax payers, only watched a few minutes of the Murray match? Was the wretched Scotsman losing at the time? Pity he did not see the glorious British player triumph so convincingly in the quarter finals.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dry as Duns and other inappropriate sayings

Picking up the Grudian, mercifully an English transaction, after a week's absence in French France 'Scottish Daily Mail' asked about the weather in France complaining bitterly about the excessive rain fall in Duns especially over the last 36 hours. We found our rain gauge overflowing on our return-that's at least 52mm since last Saturday from 7pm yesterday another 47mm. So off to the local weather centre in Greenlaw once again to see what the experts have recorded here
The vital stats are:

Rain Today: 4.0 mm
Rain Rate (/hr): 0.00 mm
Rain Yesterday: 32.0 mm
This Month: 77.0 mm

Something wrong shurely (hic)

How can a place 8 miles as the sparrow hawk flies have about half the rain fall of Duns over the same period. I have always suspected that Duns, like Hutton, has its own micro climate except in Hutton's case it was remarkably dry when places around it were getting saturated.

Hutton Think Tank's (HT2) in house (so as he can stay dry) meteorologist has made the puerile suggestion that perhaps there is something wrong with the rain gauge in the Small-Wet-Garden-in-Duns. It could hardly be that wrong and anyhow given the sheltered nature of our patch more likely to under record if anything.

And tonight a Brass Ensemble plays at Paxton House as part of the music festival.

Big Deal?

Playing outside.

HT2 has forecast dry conditions. Greenlaw doesn't do TD15

I'll bring a couple of macs

and an umbrella.

(The image is of Duns during a dry spell in Greenlaw)

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Friday, July 17, 2009
We are roaring through God's own country-well south of Scotland-having arrived earlier from Paris, France, courtesy of Eurostar.Unlike Eurostar Natonal Express is heaving; bog standard FirstClass is full, in contrast to ES's Leisure Select where you have eventualy to wave away the free Champagne which goes a long way in a sparsely occupied compartment

We found ourselves travelling from Gare du Nord with an Australian family who had been next to us in the train going out. To while away a pleasant hour or two I asked the bloke about the current test match at Lords

Don't follow cricket he said.

Bit of a conversation stopper that one.

Now across the table from a garrulous Glaswegian. I bet he follows everything. And being the only passenger without a laptop on he is dying to chat

Me I ll hide my head in the Netbook until Berwick

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

The British are (still) coming not to crush the revolution as in the US of 1776 but to join in the Bonne Vie. I don't know how many Brits live in Greater Paris, L'Isle de France, but there are many around here-so many in fact that the locals refer to the Station area as "Saint Nom la British" (Click to enlarge image)They are not conspicious being mostly middle class professionals-I doubt if many retire here as opposed to Provence or the Dordogne.Only evidence of their presence is the large number of English papers available at the newsagent including several Grudians and the fact that a surprisingly number can manage English quite well.

Not the place to be after Bastille Day if you enjoy your comforts. A notice in the window of the Bakery wishing their customers Happy Holidays announced that the Boulangeie would be closed until the 27th-

August, that is

I suspect that the village will soon be as deserted as Paris and in the case of L'Etang La Ville the tourists will not fill the gap

The eldest daughter and her brood will be joining the exodus-from Isle de France
to Dalgety Bay-from France to Fife

Quelle gappe de Cultour!

Vive la difference

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Picture 013
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000

Did you know said some one that the French are the Eco Warriors of Europe as far as recycling is concerned. Even better than the Scottish Borders Council!

How come? asked the usual sceptic

They even recycle Train Tickets!

Hum so can we here-whats so great about that?

But before using them

(Click on image to see what he means)

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bastille Stormed; no one cares

"Il mai être Bastille Day, mais c'est comme tout autre jour: Bugger à faire et tous les morts ennuyeux" said the monsieur buying Le Monde at the local equivalent of Nairns-I think I caught most of les mots, bon or otherwise correctly Having made his third unsuccessful attempt to sell me last Sunday's Sunday Times Monsieur le Propriétaire dug out today's Guardian -three Euros for a very slimmed down version.

14 July is no big deal in L-Etang La Ville. Shops open as normal-even Shoppi, thelocalsuper marche; tout le monde is out of town for a long weekend and Paris is pleasantly empty

It rained in Duns yesterday says Metcheck.

Quel Domage

Something must be going on somewhere-these planes flew over yesterday -or very similar-so I assume there is a fly past.

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Monday, July 13, 2009
The announcement was incomprehensible and everyone started to get out.I enquired as to the problem The answer was again incomprehensible but involved Big Problem and long delay. I started to get out, Another blare of tannoy. A guy shouted something incomprehensible and everyone started to get in again. I asked my neighbour, Got the gist Small problem,short delay.

The train started.

Did I mention this was Paris?

Wouldn't have done for First Capital Connect

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Sunday, July 12, 2009
Trouble near t'Mill, Revisited

Its good to see from the Scottish Borders Council Planning website here

that the Hutton and Paxton Community Council have come out against the thoroughly unnecessary application for a second house next to Hutton Castle Mill

One hopes that Mr R will do the decent thing and withdraw the application as a 'Fair Cop Mate...bit of a try on actually Give it another year and have a go' sort of thing.

And which way will big Dim Jim jump

Watch this space

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Saturday, July 11, 2009
The Daily Mail (Scottish Edition)heard me telling the newsagent that I was off to France for a week. He sniffed. Me, I am happy to go to Pease Bay. Not far, nice beach and no foreigners, You can keep France, in my book.

A bit like our first visit to Peebles when we were looking for a house in the Borders. 'Won't find any advertised. Word of mouth around here' some one said smugly. A mite pleased with itself-Peebles- we thought. Apparently the unofficial town Motto is:


We stopped looking. Especially after I had rung the Golf Club and asked if I could reserve a tee to play a round.

'No' I was told.

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Friday, July 10, 2009
Posting will be a bit erratic over the next week as Huttonian is off to Foreign Parts-on another grand parenting visit and given the inadequacies of French IT might not be able to blog on a regular basis. In the meanwhile I will have chance to see the fabled Ba' Game in Duns Market Square- a sort of gang warfare where the Bachelors take on the Married men in attempting to propel a ball (rumoured that it was originally the head of an Englishman)from one side of the square to the other.

I'll remain discreetly in the background in case a new ball is needed

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Thursday, July 09, 2009


If you want a house in Eyemouth, so apparently does every one else, so you had better rush whilst stocks last-at least that seems the message from the lead story in today's Berwickshire News which you can read here

And how do we know that Eyemouth is such a desirable place to live and therefore to buy property?

The Queen likes it and is prepared to show her approval by making a full forty minute visit to the place. Not my idea but the Provosts:

HRH Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh visited Eyemouth last week, and Honorary Provost of the town and chair of Eyemouth Town Council, Douglas Younger, said you can't really get a better seal of approval than that.

"Eyemouth is definitely the place to be. We've got a new high school that's absolutely fantastic, second to none and we've also got the beach, the harbour and the beautiful surroundings that come with them.

"We had a visit from the Queen and Prince Philip last week and if it's good enough for them it should be good enough for anybody!

"The fact that they came to the town shows that Eyemouth is well thought of not just locally but nationally too."

Now Huttonian has a lively interest in a property for sale in Allanton. How can we get the Queen there?

Not by 60 bus I suggest- although by now the driver may know the way

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

" Yes but you will have to help me find it" said the Number 60 Bus Driver to the lady in front of me boarding the bus at Duns in reply to a question as to whether the 0920 Duns to Berwick stops at Allanton. Apparently this was his maiden voyage from Galashiel/Berwick via Duns (and indeed via Allanton only reachable on the 9.20 on weekdays)In consequence the passenger, Allanton bound, was up and down from her seat giving the Driver detailed instructions en route-ending up with the suggestion to do a U-turn opposite the Allanton Inn to head back to join the main route at Chirnside. She then disembarked. One would be passenger waiting at the Allanton Bus stop, knowing a novice when he saw one, abandoned his plan to board the bus preferring, presumably to await a more familiar driver on the next Berwick bound bus (in exactly 24 hours time)

Having lost his guide the driver had to ask a boarding passenger just short of Chirnside the best route through the town but once on the main Chirnside/Berwick road he drove very fast and with great confidence which was bad luck on a the sole potential passenger from Foulden who did not quite reach the bus stop in time-not to worry there will be another along in 120 minutes.

I was a bit concerned that once in Berwick the tyro driver would not know about the diversion to the station so with 200 yards to go before the turn off I got up and asked him if the bus would go to the station.

"Up to you" he replied

So it did

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

This is Duns Summer Festival Week-or Reivers Week depending on where you are standing in which pub and it is the big community event of the year. It really depends on good weather and it is not getting it so far; the crowning of the 'Wynsome Mayde' had to be done inside and I suspect she and her court got something of a soaking before they reached the War Memorial in Duns Park and the ensuing equestrian cavalcade had to process through torrential rain in its traditional tour of the town. Only the Pipe Band seemed equipped for bad weather although the drums got increasingly muffled as the wet evening went on. I don't know how many missiles came the way of the bed racers and I suspect by the time they reached the fourth pub on their race they felt no pain

Its hissing down today.

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Monday, July 06, 2009


Well I never thought etc....but to see the old Kirk heaving at the seams, jazz band in full flow, Songs of Praise and then something less spiritual..wine being taken while people foot tapped, jigged and swayed-two of the staider Elders displayed some fancy foot work; all this against the background of a weekend of gardens being open throughout the village, an exhibition of old Hutton in the church, the village hall full of tea and cake consumers, big raffle (Yes I did since you ask) and a spirit of Mafiking throughout.Even Vortek, the drunken, fighting, smoking, Polish bear was on parade. I suspect that this was his first appearance beside the pulpit.

Worth waiting for.

Not Mafiking in fact (The news may not yet have reached Hutton) but the 175th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the present church; hence the exhibition including some ancient maps which can best be seen by clicking on them. The opening of the village gardens (including the splendid one around the Old Manse-slightly tidier since Huttonian's day)some 14 in all.

And next year it will be done all over again. Another 175th-this time of the opening of the church.

Start saving now.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009
Vox Pop Borders' Style

I don't think I have ever seen 'Borders Speak' in writing before and am not in a position to judge how genuine it is but it has the ring of authenticity. The 'Issue' is whether the Scottish Borders Highheidyins should reverse a decision to no longer pay for Duns Volunteers Hall out of public funds. Under strong local pressure

They did

SIR, - Whit heartenin it wiz tae witness first hand the reversal o the Coonsil decision o December 18, 2008, tae cease paying the lease on the Volunteer Hall.
Every coonsillor present on Thursday last, bar yin, respected the general feelings o the folk o Duns and district an agreed that there had bin a mistake made previously.
This mistake was borne out of insufficient research and information being made available tae these coonsillors thae said. The coonsillors reflected on the lack o consultation and the damage that this caused. They stood up tae bi coonted when it mattered and whether they supported the motion pit forrit bi oor toon cooncillor Frances Renton or the amendment pit in bi Cooncillor Donald Moffat whae wiz absent due tae hiz holidays, the vote was 28 for change (and whae kens or cares whit the dissenter wiz thinkin or daen).
The actual result wiz 21 votes fur the motion and seven fur the amendment. The motion jist sought reversal. The amendment wanted a three year rolling lease.
The folk o Duns an district acknowledge wholheartedly the fact that many many people stepped up tae the plate when this situation manifested itsel. Apert fae the 350+ folk whae attendit the public meetin an the 2,017 whae signed the petitions maist o whae actually exist (and each an evry yin o e deserve a mention but the paipers no big enuff ), a wee group verra ably led bi Ex Reiver (1974) Stuart Renton flew the flag on oor behalf an ah think that ah speak oan behalf o the vast majority when ah register throo eer paiper a hearty vote o thenks tae thaem.
Tae Francis Renton, whae hed a hard stert tae this fur a sorts o reasons but when it wiz required did the right thing by uz a, ah offer a personal vote o thenks.
Ah watched an listened in utter amazement at the barrackin sum coonsillors gied this lass an nae matter whaur ee stan' oan this it was oot o order. Some o thaem there that day, whither thae supported oor cause or no should reflect, an behave thirsells gaun forrit. Thae seem tae forget that thae ur representitives o thur toons an commoonities.
The wee band representin Duns wur able tae disagree wi the coonsil withoot bein disagreeable - apert fae me likely cos ah lapsed an jined in wi a bit o polite jeerin an booing at selectit moments. In fact efter the roll call vote and jist at the feenish o mah third lap o honour roon the coonsil chamber, ah extracatit mahsel jist afore ah wiz forceably ejaculatit intae the street bi security personnel!
Tae Coonsillors Jones, Moffat, Garvie, Cook, Fullarton, Parker an a the rest whae got tae thur feet an spoke positively in support o a listenin, common sense, communicative coonsil , weel dun and thenks.
That might jist, if delivered restore the faith o sum o uz in the eastern Borders that oo er pert o the bigger picter.
John Lamont did his bit. Oor commonity coonsil didnae fail uz. Glenn Rodger the director o education and lifelong learning wiz the first coonsil official tae venture near Duns tae pit hiz case and oo respect him fur that.
It is understood until sumbuddy tells us itherwise, that this decision means that the coonsil pays the lease fur the foreseeable future. Whither that iz the case or no, oo shood prepare oorsells tae accept the invite tae the coonsil pairty as or when it comes.

Well Dinged indeed

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Duns Summer Festival or Reiver's Week starts tomorrow with the Kirkin' O' Reiver and the Openin' Ceremony (Swallow your most of your final consonants and you are speakin' correc' loca' lingo)The very attractive Festival Programme is out and amidst the historical articles, poetry and programme lurk a sense of possible impending disaster or civil disorder. The Family Cycle Run ( British safety standard helmets must be worn, take part at your own risk) Family Ceilidh (Participants must be accompanied by an over 18 year old) Family Fun Day (cancelled if weather bad) Five-a -side- Football (Participants take part at own risk) Gymkhana (Participants etc) Reiver's Dinner and Ball (Strictly over 18's only)Fun Run (Yes, at own risk) Hand Ba' ( In case of damage property owners in the vicinity of the of Market Square may care to board their ground floor windows...dangerous nature of the Hand Ba' ..children are not to be left unattended)

Its a relief that apparently the Teddy Bear's Picnic and the Tea Dance are risk free and , surprisingly, the same applies to the DUNS GOT TALENT event. But the most striking (Npi) plea for good order and military discipline is connected to the Bed race on Monday evening

Competitors take part at their own risk

A risky bed race? Really?

The clue lies in the large print at the bottom of the page


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Friday, July 03, 2009


A Peasant has commented on the previous post as follows

"The lack of visual literacy of the planners is unparalleled - just look how they have wrecked Whitsome Hill and many other places. Planning in the Borders is beyond a joke. How can this issue be progressed?"

I don't know the background to the rape of Whitsome Hill but don't generally blame the planners but their political masters and the odd rogue Councillor who forces through daft decisions-either out of sheer dimness, illiterate cussedness or following a discretely hidden agenda of his (usually) own. I hate to be a bore on the subject but a fine example of this beast is Big Dim Jim the member for Eyemouth/Coldingham and one of the three councillors for Eastern Berwickshire. I used to see him in action when I was a Huttonian by both domicile and inclination but I am still marking his card-hence yesterday's Post. And this week's Berwickshire carries yet another example of his style: moving across the Whiteadder to Foulden as you can read here

Granted Big Jim knows the area; he has been around long enough but I suspect what he understands about what or what not constitutes a an important historical remains could be inscribed on one of these new 20p pieces with something missing-an apt metaphor this. Yet he can still proudly say : "I suspect that the cottages won't be of significant importance historically."
Fortunately, in this case, he has not been able to stop the involvement of genuine experts-not that their opinion will impress him unless it is in his favour.

You will observe Dear A Peasant that (from his declaration of interests) that Mr B F is a member of the NFU (see here) and it is therefore instructive to note that most 'development' proposals put forward by a farmer or landowner (often the same difference)automatically earns his support seemingly irrespective if its merits and the views of the local community.And when the opinions of the official planning staff are also against the applicant it is all too frequent that he can get his point of view rammed through the Berwickshire Area Committee.

A Peasant : raise your sights

(Image is of a nice bit of Berwickshire just crying out for development. Get those pretty scrubby trees out of the way and a posh estate in before you can say 'next credit crunch')

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Thursday, July 02, 2009
Concrete 2 Paxton 0

A Good day for the Laird is the story behind Paxton Houses get the Green Light-full sordid details you can read here

PLANNING permission has been granted for two new houses in Paxton, despite objections from the Community Council, and what one Councillor described as "moral issues". sums it up. Bully for Councillor David Raw who could not accept the way the applicant had run rings around the planning regulations including cutting down his own plantation of Christmas Trees (in January-bad timing, or what?); the application had originally been rejected on the grounds :"that the development would result in the loss of a woodland resource and would subsequently have a detrimental impact on the landscape" Soon fix that-cut down the woodland resource; fait accompli; now let's start again shall we?

But not a problem for Big 'Dim' Jim, one of the other two Councillors for Eastern Berwickshire who has a peerless record in supporting any development, any where, whatever the local Community Council might think and how nauseatingly inappropriate it might be. In Dim Jim's eyes this Woodland Resource was no more than basically "pretty scrubby christmas trees", and urged the committee to look at the positives. He said: "These pretty* scrubby trees were felled by the owner for reasons which are not our concern. We have to look at the positives - new trees will be planted. I would support the recommendation to approve permission, we have to be positive and bold." ( subtext:Just in case I ever want to build on my own farm at Coldingham?)

So now the good people of Paxton will have on their doorstop two one-and-a-half storey properties with dry dash rendered walls, timber clad features and Redland Norfolk pan tiles. 'Timber clad features? Made from the felled Christmas Trees? There is a lost opportunity for you .

And so exciting is this new development (until it is mercifully screened in about 40 years time by a new mandatory planting of less pretty scrubby Christmas Trees) that Big Jim Fullarton is calling for a major new transport initiative to service it "This is now a completed building group. I wonder if it is in the interest of transport links to put a bus shelter in Paxton to link this community - I am going to put that out there.

Big Jim's syntax is hard to follow at the best of times*-there already is a bus shelter in Paxton-so we assume he means that a new bus shelter should be built near to the this startlingly bijou attraction thus allowing the people of downtown Paxton to take the 32 bus (never on a Sunday, mind you) to visit Scotland's Favourite Short Break Destination latest tourist attraction; 'Nothing on Telly Joan-lets pop on the bus and go and have a look at how the Johnny Dim Development is getting on and enjoy a stroll through the pretty pretty Christmas Trees"

(* 'Pretty' as in 'very' one assumes but with BDJF you can never be quite sure)

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Ou sont Les Nieges D'anton

Duns The 9th White
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
No not to day but it would have been better than the high temperatures and the 120% humidity of this morning; almost too hot to play golf at 9am for goodness sake. I decided not to play 18 with the husband of one of first bloggees (met for the first time after 12 years as almost neighbours)and he wanted a full round so I wilted around 9 cursing the absence of a water bottle. As I got to the 18th a young green keeper was hurrying up the First astride his All Terrain Coarse Course Cutter. Swaddled up in heavy waterproofs and a Life boat Coxswain's hat.

'Aren't you a bit hot in that?' I yelled above the roar of his Rolls Royce type super- charged engine,

'Bloody cold at this speed' he said

This speed? 4mph down hill

What does he wear in January?.

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