Musings from the Merse
Monday, August 31, 2009

Know your Duns?

These images are mostly of scenes within the Dun's town boundaries. The first 4,000 correct answers identifying all the places inside the town will be entered into a prize draw supervised by the Hutton Think Tank (Lottery and Rotten Luck Section)

First Prize A week in the Barbican Hotel

Second Prize :

two weeks

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Sunday, August 30, 2009
is the banner on page 11 of the Berwickshire News

Indeed this a event which we miss in our move to Duns: the annual Hutton and Paxton Horticultural Show, now in its 103 year. Judging from the paper's coverage little has changed since our last participation on 2007. Same judges, same winners, same high quality of participation. The wife had some successes despite the fierce competition. First Prize for Rhubarb thus (incidentally and inadvertently) depriving the usual annual winner of the prize for the best overall vegetable display.(It may indeed have been J Pigg who swept all before him this time.) She also had sporadic success with potatoes and one year got second prize for her broad beans. Some categories were hopeless for the novice: onions were the automatic preserve of the Onion Club-an almost Masonic Society with vacancies for membership more or less on a dead man's shoes basis. Our organic tomatoes, small and tasty, never could compete with the large shiny and tasteless force fed, chemical war-fared offerings from the usual experts. (Organic veg was noticeable by its absence in all categories)

Huttonian had scarce success, Once a glorious second in the Industrial Section (Best snap shot-foreign holiday) with a shot of Lions in Zambia beaten, incredibly, by Lambs in Somerset-England being, quite rightly, foreign)

But one glorious year-the first time that there had been a new category: Best Plate of Summer Fruit (in the vegetable section!)I returned to the hall to be delighted by the image you can see above.

First Prize!

Out of how many I hear you ask?



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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Full Cycle

Town Mouse has written movingly here about the departure of an old friend. Thanks to Shunters of Berwick " From Anywhere to Anywhere-eventually" my old bike, like the Ashes, has come home. It is good to see it again.

It is, in the correct sense of the word,unique. Put together by a craftsman in north London who created his machines from the remains of others-half nicked (in the sense that the chained bit defeated the thief who made of with the rest and then dumped it)
partial survivors of an argument with a car or a bollard; tossed out unloved Raleigh surplus to requirements and in the pre Freecycle (npi) era what else could you do?-'Bring me your muddled messes yearning to be reconditioned-and I'll lovingly do it. And I did. Cheque will do nicely guvnor' Although it never graced the corridors of the Old Admiralty Building as my other Foreign Office Bike did propelling me, one legged virtually, around a department 120 yards long and 50 wide it has seen honourable service and was the star of Disgruntled Commuter now replaced with another purpose built but so- this -century model. So to Duns and a quiet retirement.

One problem. Unique bikes need unique tools. Saddle (12" too high)needs lowering. My huge collection of tools for most occasions is incomplete so technical assistance required. The Other Half of Town Mouse is now in receipt of close up images of the appropriate mechanisms (sample above) and electronic advice will soon be forthcoming

The bike boasts an air-powered klaxon horn (disguised as a water bottle). I am told that it is VERY LOUD To use this I must very carefully wait my moment.

Duns may not be ready.

It is usually a quiet place

I may have to wait for the next Jim Clarke Rally

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Friday, August 28, 2009
Hippo Seen on B6461 may not be too fanciful in view of a late traffic flash:

Following from our roving traffic correspondent Ms Hogg:

Rhoda has asked drivers to take care of local roads because of the detritus left by harvesters and tractors. The stretch by the former Whitsome Hill Farm is very nasty this morning. This caused no end of squealing brakes in the early morning hours.

Indeed being wet and harvest coming in is the combination which produces muddy roads in these here parts. Currently the B6437 is mud alley with the fuzz being involved by a bloggee in persuading the Council people to put on their (mud) coloured wellies and get scraping.

I had never realised, until being on the Hutton and Paxton Community Council in my tossed salad days that farmers had a legal responsibility for clearing mud after them-punishable claimed one, by fines up to £10,000-not that any local would ever (dare)shop a farmer-and in consequence one or two of them were extremely dilatory about getting rid of the muck leaking from their farm yards or their fields. One farm not unadjacent to the B6461 was the biggest offender. No names no lawyer's letter

This is born out by the National Farmer's Union as you can read here

(The image, I am unreliably informed, may be of a couple having had a mud bath on the B6461 asking around about who had nicked their clothes)

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Grouse Don't' Apparently

It was inevitable that amongst the readers of the Berwickshire one or two would fight back against the recent condemnations of grouse shooting. Two letters in this week's paper for instance. Go here and scroll down It is slightly curious that neither writer has felt able to give their full name. I am glad that 'Jeremy' (how many of those in the Borders I wonder)feels able to point out: :'The way to look at this (the grouse) is as a totally wild bird which is far better off than the chicken or pig from an industrial farm.' Indeed. Happy and healthy browsing through the heather. No battery farming for him. Then 'Bang Bang. Thank you my good man' And if it was a clean shot (a big if judging by many incompetent shots we all know of) a good decent death for something which is 'In many respects... is regarded as a delicacy' That's all right then

And not a rich man's sport? The Scotsman sees it differently:

"The sport is a highly profitable investment with a day's driven grouse shooting costing between £130 and £170 for a brace (pair] of grouse. A typical party of eight people could shoot 100 brace a day at a net total cost of between £13,000 and £17,000" Full story here

So someone is laughing all the way to the bank. Benefits the Scottish Economy-sure
and if the Lairds, against all the evidence, are feeling the pinch on their grouse moors there are always wind turbines to fall back on.
(Thank you Thoeflich of Flickr for this image of the Ruffed Grouse-see him and other birds here

He certainly shot a lot-but only with

a camera.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
This week's 'Issue' in the Berwickshire News is as follows:

Is vandalism an increasing problem in your town or village?
Yes [69.2%]
No [27.7%]
Don't Know [3.1%]

It has been running for some time and unlike 'Should Berwick be part of Berwickshire' or 'Should Duns be used for the Jim Clarke Rally next year?' has not attracted much interest; one vote either way makes a one percentage change on the result.

I don't know much about the bigger settlements but apart from the odd car scratching Duns has a good record on Yobbish behaviour (Boy Racers always and dishonourably excepted)Hutton was even better-not even the mobile post office vandalised (npi)by the roving vigilantes of the Hall Committee. The only case I can remember in 10 years residence was youngsters going into the church and throwing the pew cushions around fairly harmlessly-it caused the church to be locked on occasion but is now back, like the old Windmill Theatre, to 'We never close' And quite right too.

When first in Hutton I heard that there had been a case of a bicycle stolen-recently-ie in living memory and I am grateful to the almost unknown Borders Poet Abdul Basset Mc Grahy for his valiant attempt to record the event

Neighbourhood Watch Borders Style

Community Alert’ they call it here.
Oxymoronic surely.
Our rural calm is soporific.
Unbroken by any suspicion
of criminal intent ever since
the village burglar was apprehended
escaping from the scene of his crime
on a stolen bicycle.

He might even have got away
had he not been walking the bike
uphill. (He had nicked the one
without gears.)

Now if you venture through the village
in its post neutron bomb like emptiness
all you get is
the occasional curtained twitch
of the neighbourhood watch
going about
your business.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Battered Dunlop
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Hackers are usually poor golfers-they hack and some obviously hack harder than others. But this guy (I am assuming, perhaps wrongly that the golfer (in a loose sense) who did this to the Dunlop was a bloke. Muscular, non smoker. beer drinker. tattooed and seeking relief from his caravan in Pease Bay. As you do.

If he recognises his victim which I found well into the out of bounds area to the right of the 14th at Duns (MBUI) he is welcome to have it back. Otherwise I will free cycle it.

Why, I hear you cry, was I well into the out of bounds area? I was looking for my (whole) Ultra One which had decided to join the Fascists on the extreme right.

Did I find it?


Not yet

But one thing Scotland has taught me.

Persevere in the face of adversity.

Especially if it costs you money not to

Shooting from the Lip

Musings rarely ventures into the wider range of politics outside the generally apolitical borders-Huttonian leaves that to the witty and surgical Havering On (although I think he prefers music to ministers)but I can not resist the article here about the 'Great Escape' starring Abdul Baset Al Megrahi, a walk off part, and Kenny MacAskill in his greatest role. As someone who was peripherally involved in the hunt for the 'Lockerbie Bomber' I have considerable sympathy for those many people who believe that they banged up the wrong guy and I have even more sympathy for the Scottish Minister of Justice who I think did exactly the right thing in sending Mr M home on compassionate grounds despite all the international pressure on him to let the wretched fellow die in prison. And now of course he is the fall guy with people like Gordon Brown scrambling into their flak jackets, hunkering down and closing the hatches to escape the fallout ( metaphors slightly stretched but you know what I mean)This was an act of great political courage-and even, although I hate to say it, Fishy Salmond has come out of this ordeal by Washington remarkably well. No, I am not voting SNP, but full marks in this instance. Well perhaps 9 out of 10 as Mr MacAskill was surely a bit naive to expect the Libyans to do the decent and sensitive thing by receiving their returning Prodigal Son with anything short of full and fulsome honours. I wonder if he read the advice from Our Man in Tripoli on this point? Much better to have insisted ion using an RAF plane flying into a Libyan military base but even then the Libyans would have probably insisted on a hero's welcome

And as Kenneth Roy points out in the Scottish Review politicians not intimately concerned should keep their mouths shut until they have something considered and almost sensible to say.

But that will be the day.

Kenneth Roy also suggests that Gordon Brown is losing credibility by staying mum and
'shows no inclination to emerge blinking into the sunlight with a statement on Lockerbie'. The decision to release the Libyan is not a matter for the UK government and he is wise to stay out of it-and indeed when he does emerge the bunker he should make clear his constitution detachment with a statement on the lines of
: '

Er, Abdul Baset who?'

(Thank you Iain Dale of flickr for this image) Of you recognise the senior lady in the photo you may win a coconut.

But not ftom me

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Said Tweed to Till 'Pxxx Off'

Someone on the Today Programme commenting on the BBC series 'Rivers' informed the nation that unlike England and Wales canoeists in Scotland had the 'right to roam' in any bit of water they wanted to (not the reed bed sewage plant in Hutton, one fancies) This may be the formal legal position but I suspect the Tweed Commissioners and the riverine Lairds (same sort of creature once the Tweed is fully within Scotland)might have other notions in the interests of the protection of precious fishing. I don't see His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch bothering with legal niceties if a horde of canoeists entered his territorial waters of the river-extensive as it is. Nor would the Tweed Commissioners have truck with such yobs if they dared come mob handed.

One does see the odd canoeist in the Paxton House reach where the river still forms the border between Alba and Albion nd I have actually seen a small Hovercraft on the Tweed, launched from below Paxton House (see image)

but only once.

I suspect the launch was unauthorised, possibly from sheer ignorance of the wrath likely to come, and doubtless the guys with the Barbour Jackets, Green wellies and double barreled Purdeys later called on the skipper for a bit of a talking to.

The Tweed can be very nasty in a spate but apparently the Till has the killer reputation as this ditty, composed shortly after the battle of Flodden, of blessed memory, points out:

Said Tweed to Till,
What gars ye rin sae still?
Said Till to Tweed,
Though ye rin wi' speed,
And I rin slaw,
For every ane that ye droon
I droon twa!"

Canoeists, you have been warned

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Sunday, August 23, 2009
Happen Nothing at t'mill

Nothing very much seems to be happening over the long posted application for a new house at Hutton Mill. It may be the dead hand of the summer hols as senior planning officials take tbeir long breaks in Iceland (to be near the pile of missing taxpayers cash in the Icelandic Banks)or it may be that the applicant has not got the message-better withdraw the paperwork and avoid an embarrassing rejection. One more objection has been received see here.

Go on Albert do the decent thing. I know its a bore to have to commute nearly 21/2 miles to see your pheasant chicks but you really don't need an extra house for an extra bloke to micro manage the enterprise in duplicate.

A pity about your grandson perhaps but commuting from Aberdeen to the banks of the Whiteadder is an even longer trek than the hard slog to Paxton

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Posting may be intermittent as we leave the Reivers for Robin Hood country on Friday for a get together in Nottingham of many of those volunteers involved in the Wife's organisation Cerebral Palsy Africa-see here It has the distinction of being the only charity belonging to the Berwickshire Association of Voluntary Services (BAVS) which works 'out with'(as they say here) the Borders-and along way out with at that

All being well we return Sunday evening and normal service will be renewed there after.

The image is of Robin Hood fighting off the Sheriff. Allegedly

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Last Post? Yes. Really

Huttonian is told that despite the misgivings of some of those pensioners who still use the Hutton (mobile) Post Office on its twice weekly visit to the village the diktat of the Hall Committee whereby the van was no longer welcome to park outside the village hall has now come into effect. The Van is now doing its stuff on the wind swept slopes of Knowe's Close. No shelter. no Loo.
Come April 2010 will it have any customers left especially if the coming winter will be as inclement as the present summer? Wanna bet?

Well done Hall Committee. What the Post office started by closing the office in the Hall you are finishing off in style. Sweet revenge but a bit hard on the community?

Or don't you mind?

(The image of the Mobile Post Office outside the Village Hall is what the Sun might describe as Very Unique. Rare certainly. Down load and keep safe.)

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Bordering on the ?

The Borders Party raises its profile with this letter to the Berwickshire News

SIR, - Politicians must not be cowed by political correctness, so may I, as a councillor, give my views on the exhibition, Made in God’s Image, which enraged so many?
Am I a Christian? Yes. I’m also passionate about art having spent four years at the Central School of Art and Design.
The Bible with “F*** the Bible” written in the margin, and the video of a girl sticking pages torn from the Bible down her pants and bra were clearly enough to make people livid. But this sort of “art” has often been used to bait religious people, and the best thing to do is ignore it.
The trouble is this exhibition cannot be ignored, because it was publicly funded. If Glasgow Council intended to support the gay community then they have spectacularly messed up.
As well as causing great offence to Christians, Jews and Muslims, untold harm has been done to the way the gay community is perceived. Importantly, reactions to this exhibition were entirely predictable.
Glasgow City Council has seriously failed in its duty to promote good relations between people of different groups and should be dragged before the Public Services Ombudsman for gross misuse of public money.
The Charity Regulator might also be interested. Culture and Sport Glasgow, the arm of Glasgow Council which funded the exhibition, is a charity which controls Glasgow’s unparalleled portfolio of Common Good assets. Funding such an abusive exhibition clearly breaches the requirement that charities should provide public benefit. Attempting to justify this spending the charity’s chief executive, Dr Bridget McConnell, (wife of Jack, the former First Minister), spouted the sort of pseudo-intellectual rubbish that should have no place in local government.
By contrast our arts officers at Scottish Borders Council take an honest approach and have consistently encouraged real art. Let’s keep it that way.
Leader of the Borders Party,

Without necessarily dissenting from the sentiments expressed I wonder how wise it is, if Councillor Watson feels so strongly about the event, to give it free publicity? Might there not be an ugly rush from some parts of the Borders to have a gawk and a giggle?

If Eyemouth empties this pm you may guess at the reason.

And had Reston station been reopened.......?

If you can't afford the fare to Glasga' you can read abouthe exhibition here Certainly its stated intentions seem a long way from the Councillor's interpretation of what is on display.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Out of A Clear Sky but bring your brolly

Off to Embra today and will see you here

Bring some specie

And avoid the Mendicant Piper of Princes Street. He is (a) loaded-thank you Japanese 'homecomers' (b) out of your way to West Nicholson Street

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Road Flasher

Rhoda Hogg has just passed me the following update on the section of the B6437 south of the junction with the B6421:

Drivers who have been perturbed by the absence of road markings along this stretch of road will be reassured to know that the light gouging accomplished a few days ago by a heavy agricultural vehicle is down the middle of where the lines should be if SBC weren’t short of paint.

Visitors to the Borders are astonished at the lack of traffic once you leave the A1. I once drove from Hutton to Kelso mid-morning and saw three other cars. If it wasn't for the tractors and the occasional oil tanker and the passing through White Van man you could plough up some of the B roads and no one would notice-the B6461 always excepted as it carries a lot of the commuter traffic to Berwick with a peak time density of nearly 20 cars an hour. When the wife and I did an informal traffic survey with regard to the Fishwick By pass we waited notebook in hand for two hours at notorious Dead Man's Corner. We even walked up and down the road, risking life and limb. In that time we saw two vehicles; well actually one vehicle heading towards the new development at 'The Close' and then coming back again. On a second visit we had the same success but it may have been a different vehicle. With major Lairds/Landowners/Farmers heavily involved Planning Permission was granted despite (because of?) the objection of the Community Council.Another notch in Big Jim's McBowie Knife.

Despite the apparent urgent need for the bypass (and the building programme to pay for it)not a sod has been cut.

Well done the credit crunch.

(The image is, so we are informed, of Donald Trump, seemingly relieved that his application to build 123 Mc Mansions and two championship golf courses in the Fishwick Area in partnership with the newly founded Kelso and Landski Bank has been rejected by the Berwickshire Area Committee)

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Legitimate Grouse?

Despite the prevalence of country pursuits around here -huntin', shootin', fishin' and Boy Racers not Tout Berwickshire are in favour of all of them:

SIR, - The first day of the grouse-shooting season - fondly referred to by the shooting community as the ‘Glorious 12th’ - has just passed. Typically, wealthy shooters kill around half a million of these birds, whose population has been boosted to unnatural levels by intensive management of the UK's moorlands.
There are many reasons to oppose the killing of grouse. A large number of native birds and mammals who interfere with grouse shooting are trapped, poisoned or snared. Victims include stoats, weasels, and even iconic raptors such as hen harriers, red kites and golden eagles.
Also, an unnatural, heather-rich environment is created because the grouse thrive on young heather shoots. To create fresh young shoots, the heather is burned, which can harm wildlife and damage the environment.
There is nothing ‘glorious’ about shooting birds for the pleasure of extinguishing life. Readers who wish to find out more about the horrors of ‘game’ shooting and what they can do to help to campaign against this bloodsport, should contact Animal Aid for an information pack.

OK, this is written by an anti bloodsports organisation based in deepest Kent albeit published in the Berwickshire News but certainly the piece about poisoning or trapping native birds will strike a chord here amongst many people who are ashamed that the Borders leads the UK in this regard including the destruction of a Golden Eagle not so long ago-as you can read in a previous post (scroll down)
I happened to chat to a gamekeeper from the Lammermuirs about the grouse season and the collateral damage arising from the protection of the game birds (protection withdrawn on 12 August)He got very upset about a 'townee' interfering in matters he could not possibly understand and said that the trapping, poisoning or shooting of raptors, buzzards etc were done for the best possible motives and to preserve the integrity of rural life without which, inter alia, developers would soon run out of good building land.

And I must be careful as the gamekeeper advised me always to put such country sports into the context of the 'spirit of the age'. A similar suggestion, I believe, was once used by a Roman philosopher to explain the popularity of the Circuses at the Colosseum and the great fun had by all slaughtering the odd Christian.

Strictly in season of course

Thank you Bamboo Mouse for this image of a painting of a Red Grouse. Happy 11th August! See much more here

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Damping Down in Duns

What is there to do on a wet Saturday in Duns is the question two obvious tourists seemed to be asking themselves outside Nairn's the up-the- market newsagents at about 10 am. I say seemed to be as the language was not English-possibly Swedish. 'Umlout skerl eurn Ja' was the approximate response to 'Too wet for the Duns Town Trail?' A long winded 'Yes', in any language I thought. They killed a few moments watching me buy my Guardian and looked around the shop rather desultorily. ' Tur earluie fur Cafe aginn?' 'The bloke looked at his watch and seemed to agree despite the obvious charms of Hugo's.

Duns has much to recommend it on a fine dry day-Duns Law, the golf club (MPBUI) , the rather camp statue of Duns Scotus, the Castle, But it is hardly the Border's Favourite Tourist Destination when it is hissing down, even a Short Break one.

As I was leaving the Nordics to further contemplation the Distaff side asked one of the Newsagents in excellent English 'Are there other shops here' 'Finnies-the -down- the- market newsagent was mentioned.

A quick consultation :' Lette fabrkeu beste af rodden Yob*?' or vowels to that effect

And off they rushed. Almost animated, if not downright excited.

And so the long day wore on

Some one with an entrepreneurial turn of mind should produce a little booklet for such visitors:

Twenty Minutes in Duns perhaps

* Make the best of a bad job? Blog-ed

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Saturday, August 15, 2009


Ardent bloggees who have been following the progress of the Berwickshire Poetry Anthology will be delighted to hear that the slim volume is at the Printers in Tweeddale and will soon be published with the title of "Spectres on the Landscape" Perhaps its appearance will coincide with the reopening of the public inquiry on the Wind Farm proposed for Fallago Rig as now demanded (belatedly) by the Scottish Borders Council. If you can tear yourselves away from the poetry read the Berwickshire News main story here.

The image of Duns Castle in the Frost (no not earlier this month) by a local photographer will be the front cover picture and the spectres as seen on Harden's Hill above Duns will grace the back together with the eponymous poem from within the anthology. No, you will have to buy a copy to read the verse in question plus the 57 others by 27 different poets from (mainly) the Merse.

No need for a mad rush to buy. The Anthology is to be launched at a musical/poetry reading event in Christchurch Duns on the evening of Sunday 18th October. Three prize winning poets (best under 11, best High School and best previously unpublished Adult 'virgin')will receive their prizes at the launch when they and some other contributors will read some of their poems. A Brass Ensemble will provide the backing. The anthology will be on sale amidst the wine and nibbles

Tickets will be available from early October. Look out for touts in the Market Square
and at the usual spots in the Park.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

As a former 'our man' in wherever I have much sympathy with this Although many of the stranger requests made to me when a Brit Ambo came not from members of the public but from the so called great and the good. For example one Foreign Office Minister, of the more repellent variety, on a whistle stop tour of the Gulf arrived in Kuwait to spend a few hours after nearly a full day in Saudi Arabia. He had left his ties behind and raided my wardrobe and rather reluctantly borrowed my least objectionable silk one, of which I was rather proud but one he obviously regarded as so last year. On our way to see the Foreign Minister the FMO, whom we will call Mr M to protect the guilty, spotted a shopping Mall. He asked the Kuwaiti Protocol Officer to stop, jumped out of the official Jag and rushed into an up market 'Male Boutique' which was stuffed with the derniere crie of fashionable attire from the West. He quickly picked out about a dozen designer brand silk ties at about (then) £70 apiece and asked me loudly if I could advance him the where with all-'I seem to have left my credit cards in your Residence'

As anticipated by this sleezepot who knew his Arab courtesies all too well, the Kuwaiti Protocol Officer insisted in picking up the tab' A gift from your Kuwaiti Hosts for an honoured guest'. Did Mr M demur? Not on your Eskimo Nelly, and helped himself to an extra tie on the Protocol Officer's way to the check out ' Bakers Dozen, What?!)

Mind you I wonder if some of our diplomats have not been a bit stuffy and a trifle unimaginative when dealing with the more 'bizarre' requests:

Take, for example the lady, 'unhappy with the size of her newly-boosted breasts following surgery, asked if the embassy could help'

I can think of a number of my colleagues who would have been prepared, if not positively eager,

to give some hands on advice

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Flogging Flodden (again)

It's that time of the year that the Coldstreamers flock out of the last toon in Scotland to cross the border to commemorate the Battle of Flodden. An interesting account of the day and a Historian's view of the battle is given here

It s not often that the person who gives the annual oration has very much new to say about the battle itself but on this occasion a local (English) Borderer Historian Paul Thompson focused on certain aspects of the lead up to the engagement that had certainly escaped me. I had not realised for instance that James IV had broken the traditional rules of engagement by stationing his army on an easily defensible strategic position-abandoning the 16th Century convention of the level playing field. Nor had I known of Jame's reaction to being chided by the Earl of Surrey when accused of seeking an unfair advantage:
"It beseemed not an earl after that manner to handle a King" (It of course got worse as the Earl's men killed the King but I suppose that's fair dinkum in battle-no disrespect intended)

And I had not been aware that after being manoeuvered out of his strong position by being outflanked by Surrey James abandoned the idea of fighting a battle and tried to retreat to Scotland to preempt a possible English invasion. But, sadly for him, Surrey and his army had cut off his retreat and that was that.

And the poor English foot soldier also had a bad time-in the words of Paul Thompson;

'They were running out of food and beer and were forced to drink water'.

Now that's real hardship for you.

Two lessons learned by the Brave of Both Nations:

By the English:

Always carry enough beer

And by the Scots

'Never do a favour for the French'

It will always end in tears

(The image is of the Coldstreamer dashing up Branxton Hill. His Borderer predecessors led by the Earl of Home left the battle prematurely, having, so we are told, got all the loot they could carry) This Borderer is by contrast 496 years too late to join in. Sensible chap)

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Duns 2nd shot First Hole
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
For the first time since arriving in the Borders Huttonian is involved in a Golf Competition-organised by the local Rotary Club at Duns (MPBUI)
Golf competitions are a bit like Bridge-people get over competitive, too serious,tensed and het up and sometimes down right devious. I really only enjoyed this type of activity years ago as a 7 handicap golfer at Trinity College Dublin where I regularly turned out as the highest handicap player in the First team. Being Secretary to the club and a team selector helped me keep my place for some reason I could never quite put my finger on.

Our most serious match was the annual fixture against the Leinster Ladies Team, with two or three international players; they insisted that as 'men' we gave them strokes (npi) and they played off the front tees and we off the championship ones. We rarely won a game but on one occasion I was all square on the 18th tee having fought my way back from rive down against a powerful Amazon (actually a misnomer as she seemed to have had at least three massive appendages not one as was the Amazonian practice to allow a full bow pull).)

As I was about to drive a light aeroplane flew over my head at about 50 feet coming from nowhere-Ah That's my husband said my opponent waving her driver. What a try on I thought, blatant bit of gamesmanship, her husband indeed, fat chance. Trying to put me off.

If so she succeeded.

I lost my ball, my cool and the hole

And irritating enough it was her husband.

A flight instructor from a Dublin flying school. Apparently he always flew over the course she was playing a match on three hours after her teeing off time.

No rule against that apparently.

Won't happen at Duns
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Manners Makyth Mower Man

But they don't at Duns Golf Club (MPBUI)where to ordeal by Cardiac Three, Torture by visiting four ball you can add terminal frustration by Green Keeper. Not I hasten to add, the Gnarled Old Green Keeper (GOGK) who knows a thing or two and has survived to a ripe old age by never turning his back on an advancing golf match. But the two very young, very callow assistants may not live to enjoy their pensions or the award of Gold Albert for n plus 7 years of undetected misdemeanours. Their technique is to stolidly ignore any golfer, drive up and down the middle of the fairway plugged into i-pods, slowly mowing the green you are approaching and stolidly ignoring any attempt to alert them to your presence. If you wish to finish the same day you started out on then you must play over them, round them or at them on the assumption that you are not a good enough golfer to hit such a comparatively smallish and moving target.

Manners and communication with members of the club is not Callow Youths' forte. The other day one of the two when cornered on the 16th Green actually took out his ear piece and turned off the engine and waited with intense impatience for us to putt out. To speed up things I had very carefully laid my light summer bag (with six clubs) beside my ball as I lined up the Putt. 'DON'T DO THAT' yelled CY 'YOU MUST NEVER PUT YOUR BAG ON THE GREEN. IT CAN DAMAGE IT (This line he spoke from a two ton tractor which had spent the last twenty minutes on said green)

I smothered and bit back 23 obvious retorts relating to manners and respect, 22 profanities of a similar ilk and a number of reflections on being born out of wedlock

Moved my bag to the safety of the pock marked fairway.

I lined up my putt again.

I missed.

So did my partner as CY revved up and replaced ear pieces

Next time I see him on the green I am not playing directly at him

And then I might, just might, teach him a thing or two about

Pains on the Posterior

(with a nice little Titleist indentation on the right buttock)

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Waiting for your Albert

I like this piece from the Berwickshire News of 100 years ago

PRESENTATION - An unpretentious but nonetheless very pleasant function was performed at Chirnside Station on Saturday evening. A few weeks ago Mr C Hume, goods booking clerk, received intimation, that after a period of seven years service in the above capacity at Chirnside, in the service of the North British Railway Company, he was required for a more important post at Haddington, to which place he had immediately to remove and take up the duties of chief clerk. It is pleasing to know that the services of such an able servant are appreciated and recognised by those in authority. Mr Hume was presented with a beautiful gold albert and appendages.

One wonders, doesn't one if a future goods booking clerk at the sometimes to be reopened Reston Station will be so generously treated after 7 years service. A Gold Albert would set Scotrail/Nationalised National Express East Coast back a pretty penny and as for the appendages-£591 to you sir if you hurry here

No need to worry as I suspect Reston Station has slipped down the shopping list-even below the Waverley Line which is now the White Elephant in the stall rather than in the room. And anyhow any new station will not need a Station Master never mind a goods booking clerk (goods from Reston being confined to pampered pets in baskets). Like Dalgety Bay it would rate a self service ticket machine and a tannoy with a disembodied voice reminding the potential passenger that today's 1234 to Waverley has been cancelled but there may be another one on Thursday.

Any inconvenience etc etc

The images are of Chirnside Railway Station-small and cosy and of Duns-magnificent and busy. Leaving Duns after 7 years as an 'able servant' would have rated a solid gold Hunter with matching accessories plus a handsome cheque. More of the same here

Chirnside Station Announcement" The late arrival of the 1000 train is much regretted.

Someone has nicked the rails"

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Sunday, August 09, 2009
La Princesse Canute

Dalgety Bay . Queen Canute
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Children brought up in France have a certain je ne sais quoi. You would find it hard to spot a British 5 year old building a sand castle in full Ascot gear. But despite all her elegance the tide came in remorselessly-perhaps in France it would have retreated with a certain politesse-but pas ici; this is L'Ecosse apres tout

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Friday, August 07, 2009

(Very) Late Road Flash

Rhoda Hogg writes:

Users of the B6437 are advised to take great caution when driving along certain stretches because of an SBC plot to obscure the road markings with light grey gravel to such a depth as to make skidding very likely. The section due north of Whitsome village is one such, while the section south of the junction with the B6461 Berwick-Swinton road is lethal. Please drive along this stretch with your windows shut because speeding 4x4s are seriously kicking up the dust. There is also a section of gravel gouged away at the junction with the Norham road. Perhaps someone has been nicking it for their driveway? – SBC have certainly spread more than enough.

Users of the B6461 have the usual warnings when passing Paxton, which seems to be a magnet for every whacko motorist/bike rider in the county. Drivers are also warned that the current warn weather has led to a proliferation of repulsively lycra-clad cyclists, with or without pointy helmets. If you need to stop to be sick, please do so in a safe place. There are tourists stopping in strange places to take pictures of each other.

The final hazard is hedge cutting operations, most of which are taking place without appropriate warning signage. However, for the first time ever a few days ago, one warning sign was seen for the stretch near Fishwick. There’s a first t
ime, etc…..

Inspector Jock Dangling-Stick of the Fishwick Special Branch comments:

" These of course were not tourists (almost unknown in the area)-but Special Branch Officers in undercover mode ' Operation Pussy Cats Claw" Other operatives disguised as lycra clad cyclists were withdrawn as being too conspicuous - No Respectable Borderer would be seen in daylight cycling wearing anything else than old cords, cloth cap and wellies. (NRB would not seen at night as they don't believe in using lights)Although no terrorists were apprehended two Hedge Cutting Consultants were taken into custody for failing to display warning signs in the vicinity of the notorious blackspot on the Fishwick bypass."

(The image is sent in by a recent visitor to Fishwick-note a number of Chinese tourist buses seem to have caught up in the gridlock)

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Back to the Merse leaving over developed Dalgety Bay and its McMansions to another glorious August Day.

Mr P finishes his pre pre Olympic Course to day with his likely-to-get-at-least-a-bronze-medal certificate. The image is of him steering a confident course in the general direction of China.

Not bad for a total beginner.

(More images here )

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

So its Coldstream-the last or first toon in Scotland depending on direction of travel to take over as the latest civic week, festival, whatever as you can read here For Reiver read Coldstreamer throughout. I was particularly struck with this passage :

Presenting Coldstream chairman Jim Leifer reminded those present of the nonsense that the late Stuart Tait brought to the week's festivities - in particular the international golf competition which involved hitting golf balls across the River Tweed from the Coldstream bank onto the English bank of the river. An added dimension to the competition came about when Stuart persuaded a game Englishman to dress up in armour* and be one of the targets!

I wonder which "game Englishman" was persuaded some time back to offer his head for the ball in the original Duns Ba' Game?

(* Armour? Bit of a wimp? Blog ed)

Coldstream's town motto has an interesting history an old 'streamer tells me.

In the first of those tedious competitions for 'Best wee Toon' Coldstream came second.

It was the only entrant.

Thus Nulli Secundus

Second to none

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009
  Dalgety Bay Mc Mansions

Dalgety Bay Mc Mansions
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
How farmer C would be green with envy! McMansions whereever you
look. Dalgety Bay is more fertile (npi) for this type of development than traffic congested Fishwick and planning permission was no problem in the swinging seventies.

Ah well perhaps the good days will return to the Borders
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
DALGETY BAY 2020 Olympics

Dalgety Bay Patrick in action
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Yes you saw it here first: Mr P Hall. Note that name when you look through the list of winners at the 2020 Olympics. Mr P on his first day on his first pre-Olympic sailing course at Dalgety Bay
(You need to click on image until it is 'original size' and Patrick is seen at the helm of the dinghy left centre)

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Monday, August 03, 2009
Bank Open Shock

Huttonian has regularily failed to get his head around Scottish Bank Holidays as previous posts will reveal here
The practice in the Borders seems to take them and given half a chance the English ones as well but Fife is something else again. Today 3 August is apparently a Scottish Bank Holiday as this website reveals But when I got up to the Dalgety Bay shopping centre, more in hope, than expectation, I found that it seemed a normal Monday morning. The Post Office was in full swing-no offer on second class stamps as we used to contemplate in Hutton, but no matter it was open. I enquired in Tesco Metro if it was a Bank Holiday; yes. Why is everything open as normal. 'Its a Bank Holiday; lots of people around; don't make much difference around here'

Bank Holidays are statutory for Banks See Lex Bankus Stat xxxiii, cap Cv sec iii Georgius iii (mdcclxxiii)

So I fully expected to find one premises closed at the shopping centre;
The sub sub branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

It was open

Bonuses all round

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Sunday, August 02, 2009
  Dalgety Bay Station Halt at night.

Dalgety Bay Station Halt at night.
Originally uploaded by blagayfer
The blog is off with Bucket, Spade and Frisbee to Dalgety Bay for an early August break. Posting may be intermittent.
Why Dalgety Bay I hear you cry? Indeed. Not known for its glorious beaches, Tavernas and German stuffed deck chairs. Its interesting and a bit worrying that the image that comes out first of DB on flickr is one of the station at night. Scotrails very favourite short halt destination.

Now if Hutton had a station............

Or Reston?
Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Berwickshire Bull is rarely pregnant to slightly misquote Professor Mahaffy, Provost of Trinity College Dublin who being asked to define an Irish Bull said that it "was always pregnant"

Berwickshire Show Urged on by A Peasant-see post immediately below-Huttonian returned to the show ground with a working camera and all included in the wickedly low 'Concession' (ugh)of £1. By the time of my second visit the tweedy set and the horses with them had mostly departed leaving a choice of viewing in the arena of classic cars, cows (embracing bulls as it were) and tractors. Amongst the stalls you could find the Tories (click on image and Mr Lamont will jump up at you, centre, tall, cord trousers and conservative wellies-carefully not Green)) Lib Dems, and the 'Real' Tartan Army recruiting people bouncing little boys up an inflatable assault course-even an opportunity to shoot arrows, sadly not at the Bouncy Castles.

As I left the action was moving into the beer tents

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  Berwickshire Show The Tractors

Berwickshire Show The Tractors
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Huttonian set forth despite a gloomy forecast to visit the Berwickshire Show in Duns. Took some stunning images, I am sure, and found on my return that my hi tech camera was on the wrong setting and no images on the memory card. So I fear you will have to do with the tractor lady taken three years ago. Sorry about that
Happenings in A small Scottish Community


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