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Cattle enjoying the sunshine near Ancrum. This image was supplied by Cameron Thomson.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 4:45 pm
Cattle enjoying the sunshine near Ancrum



Residents and visitors are faced with an assortment of displays on roundabouts as they proceed along the A6091 Melrose bypass to Galashiels.

At the A68 east end we have a thought-provoking hedge design resembling the Isle of Man flag, a three-legged armoured foot, or triskelion for pub quiz enthusiasts.

The next encounter is Tweedbank east roundabout which is a jungle in miniature. A dense growth which, as you circulate, makes you wonder what lies within. A lost Roman camp? A rare array of flora and fauna? Perhaps David Attenborough can be persuaded to venture forth and report back with his findings.

Let’s skip Tweedbank west for the moment and shoot over the Tweed to the Kingsknowes roundabout. A different scene again with an attractive display of silver birches and pines with daffodils in the springtime to cheer up commuters on what must be the Borders’ busiest of roundabouts.

Now Tweedbank west, surely the jewel in the crown being centre stage at the entrance to Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott, and known throughout the country and beyond.

This roundabout marks the path from Tweedbank rail terminus to Abbotsford and is used by many visitors. It has a fine display of… well, one small larch and a puzzling buddy – the Araucaria araucana – for company.

Nothing else adorns this mournful mound except a brief festive spark of decorations and, for some reason, Oor Wullie. Thanks for the trouble taken by the local resident(s) who create this merry-go-round each Christmas.

So, what can be done to remedy this bleak junction? Can I suggest to Scottish Borders Council that a mini meadow of perennial flowers and grasses are sown in March which will produce a colourful display pleasing to both people and insects alike.

A fine example of such a roundabout can be seen on Balgreen Road at Saughton Park in Edinburgh. Seeds for all options and conditions are readily available as ‘throw and grow’, they are minimal in cost and would save grass-cutting throughout the summer. It can’t be difficult.

Neil Munro



Inspired by the successful lord lieutenants’ volunteering event in Kelso last September, Lauder In Bloom set up the Blooming Borders Floral Network (BBFN).

Previously, In Bloom groups in the Borders tended to work in isolation and following the reduction in Scottish Borders Council services to groups in our region, we saw this as a positive opportunity to come together to share information and best practice, as well as providing a support network for each other.

We want to continue to work with the council to find ways in which it may still be able to assist us. We would like to invite all volunteer community groups who are involved in keeping their communities green and floral to join us – whether they have been doing it for years or are just thinking of starting out.

Following our initial successful meeting in Lauder in October, we are getting together again on Wednesday, January 29, in the evening at the Volunteer Hall in Duns, this time hosted by Blooming Duns. Anyone interested in attending, or would like to find out more, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

Ray Theedam Parry

Lauder In Bloom


More than 40 years ago I read an article in the National Geographic about Australian bushfires, which were a big problem then, too.

The author was critical of the authorities who had made it illegal to burn off undergrowth in the cool season. He argued this meant that fuel would continue to accumulate so that when a fire started it would be difficult to contain.In addition, national parks administrators believed that the parks, which cover enormous areas, should remain unmanaged.

Thus 40 years of fuel have built up, resulting in the conflagrations we have seen today.

This also has a lesson for muirburn in northern Britain.

EU regulations require this practice to be stopped, but muirburn burns off woody growth in heather, reducing fuel load, creates firebreaks and manages the land in a controlled way. Similarly, stopping dredging rivers for supposed ecological reasons causes flooding.

A hands-off approach to managing the landscape, as advocated by green movements, does not work. It’s time for those who know the land to take back control.

William Loneskie



Last week’s letters pages made for fascinating reading about the future of our planet – Donald McPhillimy telling us we are in serious bother, Neil Bryce who thinks it’s all a smokescreen and Clark Cross who says that there have always been disasters.

For several years I have been trying to help people understand that what our planet is experiencing is all beautifully under control.

Yes, it may appear as if all is lost and unless we do something about it then a catastrophe awaits.

There is no doubt that our planet is heading towards destruction because we are living in the end times as mentioned throughout the word of God, and I’m afraid there really is nothing any of us can do about it.

We can try and we will try, we can recycle and we will recycle, we can reduce our footprints and we will try and reduce our footprints. We can discuss fossil fuels, greenhouse gases, global warming, Greta (Thunberg) this and Greta that, disasters here, there and everywhere.

However, until we as individuals and as a world family realise that there is a creator, and that creator really has got the whole world in his hands, then we need to rethink our strategies. We must stop to think about the days we are living in and ask ourselves some serious questions about our future.

So whether you think singing greener carols rather than praising God is the way, or actually believing there’s nothing new going on when God says there is and not understanding that it’s our knowledge of disasters that’s different.

You either believe God is in control or you believe he does not exist. If we say there is no God then we deceive ourselves.

Digger Currie



From a rural perspective, we might imagine First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as a flockmaster charged with the care of her Scottish flock.

Assisted by her faithful collie dogs – John (Swinney), Ian (Blackford) and Fergus (Ewing), she guides her charges to Europe’s Land of Milk and Honey where the fresh green pastures are uncontaminated by English parasites and where myriad diseases and disorders will be no more.

Over the years, as she has gazed myopically at the vista of her flock grazing amidst a depleted landscape crowded with subsidised wind turbines and the ever-expanding dead zones of coniferous forests, many of them have become painfully lame and exposed to debilitating diseases and malnutrition. Her canine helpers have become snappy and thickset.

Because of imprudent budgeting, lack of forward planning or a proper health plan, her once-thriving charges have become victims of a woeful dereliction of duty. When she enters the marketplace with her motley ovine offerings, that jaunty air of confidence will quickly evaporate as the buyer’s indifference translates into economic disaster.

A fine legacy, wilfully, myopically, carelessly and ruinously squandered.

Neil J. Bryce



Sorry, Nicola Sturgeon, as ever, you are deluding yourself and your acolytes.

You do not have a mandate to demand another independence referendum. Even under proportional representation, the SNP exists as a minority government exhibiting gross incompetence and mismanagement, and survives only by doing dubious side-deals with the Greens.

In December 2019, out of a total registered electorate of just over four million in Scotland, the SNP attracted only 45% support from the 62% who bothered to vote at all. In other words, only 28% of the registered electorate in Scotland supported you, Ms Sturgeon. At best, this equates to only 1.15m votes. This is not a mandate for anything.

How this tiny number then resulted in 48 out of the 59 Scottish seats in Westminster falling to the SNP is simply an anomaly of the first-past-the-post electoral system in the UK. Many marginal UK-wide parties received far more votes in total, yet ended up with only a few MPs or no MPs at all.

Worse still, why the UK-wide mass media felt obliged to give so much credence and air-time to the customary negative, parochial, whingeing of our First Minister during the 2019 election campaign eludes me and was an embarrassment. She was not even a candidate for election to Westminster.

Are all other members of the SNP too inept and incompetent to represent themselves? The SNP has brainwashed only a minute fraction of UK voters. Only the Monster Raving Looney party can boast fewer votes.

The SNP’s endless obsession with its single-policy issue is tiresome and embarrassing. By every measure of sound management, they underperform miserably while vital resources are wasted on vain propaganda projects and failed businesses in its supporter heartlands.

Despite vast sums of money from the UK Treasury, the SNP has neglected every aspect of proper governance, allowing Scotland to fail in education, policing and healthcare standards over the past 12 years while the nationalists steadfastly refuse to address these facts.

Michael Wilson



Week after week I read false messages about Scotland’s paucity in this newspaper, admittedly from just a handful of probably-embittered souls, and probably also members of a once-secret letter-writing clique.

It was therefore uplifting to watch a short documentary about Norway’s journey from gaining independence in 1905 as a desperately poor country to the fabulously-wealthy nation it is today, with the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. With a population virtually the same as Scotland, it enjoys a very high standard of living and has some of the happiest people in the world, in spite of the high taxes they pay.

We can only look upon Norway and indeed the Republic of Ireland with envy, because Scotland could so easily enjoy the same ranking. It would take just a few more old and new Scots with the courage, vision and faith of the Norwegians and Irish to turn this already-wealthy country into a powerhouse among nations.

If you would like to see the aforementioned film, it’s called ‘Nation: Norway the twin nation’, by Phantom Power Films, and may be viewed on YouTube.

Richard Walthew

Whitsome Crofts



Donald McPhillimy may be sincere in his belief that A Greener Melrose can save the planet, but is over-optimistic. (letters, January 9)

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is now saying that the pledges made in Paris to cut greenhouse gases are not enough and there needs to be between a three-fold and five-fold increase to prevent global temperatures rising more than 1.5%.

Melrose attempts to curb CO2 is a futile exercise since China, India, Russia, the US and oil-rich countries the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and Brazil have no intention of giving up fossil fuels. China is still building coal-fired power plants and is the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide (30%).

Still, if he and his followers want to feel that they are doing something, then that is fine. So, the next feel-good stage is for them all to pledge in the pages of the Southern Reporter that they will never drive or travel in a petrol/diesel vehicle, or have goods delivered by one, they will never fly, they will turn off their gas supply and eat less meat.

Reality check: Scotland 0.13% per cent of global emissions. Melrose 0.00000000001%?

Clark Cross

Springfield Road



My apologies for this late retort to the bile from Richard West (letters, December 19).

The terms Mr West used included “right wing”, “wretched, gullible working-class voters”, “thousands die on the streets of cold and starvation, but it’s what they voted for”, “near-fascists in control at Westminster, a civil war may be inevitable”.

Let us take a look at SNP rhetoric – well, just same as the above, cutting this letter rather shorter than it could be.

The great unwashed in Scotland face the same as is outlined by Mr West.

This deplorable language should not, in my opinion, have been printed as it is not clever, is hate-based and is something I would expect from the last left-wing nationalist party to take power during the 1930s.

The only saving grace about Mr West’s rantings is that teachers, the education system and children/parents avoided his spleen.

David Millar

West High Street



I was a wee bit shocked by the revelation in Paul Kelly’s piece last week, headlined ‘Inbreeding slur far from crowning glory’.

Seemingly a main character, played by Helena Bonham Carter, in the Netflix TV drama The Crown was heard to insult Peebles folk as “an experiment in inbreeding”.

I think the Netflix show’s writer, Peter Morgan, should explain why he used such highly unpleasant language.

Douglas Hunter



For many of us 2019 will be viewed more than a little negatively, driven by a combination of Brexit, terrorism, climate change and increasing global instability.

However, while it may not have made the front pages, there is much for us to rejoice in and be thankful for.

For example, children born today have the best chance of growing up healthy, safe and educated.

There are now 4.4m fewer child deaths per year than in 2000, according to charity Save The Children’s Global Childhood Report 2019. In addition, there are now 115m fewer children out of school than at the turn of the century, and 94m fewer child labourers.

Figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) also reveal that child-killing diseases have significantly declined since 2000.

Measles, for example, declined 86% and there was also an 82% decrease in the incidence of tetanus. According to the WHO’s latest World Malaria Report, cases of the disease declined by 3m between 2017 and 2018.

Governments around the world pledged to plant millions of trees in 2019, in efforts to capture carbon from the atmosphere. In Ethiopia, an estimated 350m were planted on one day in July. Elsewhere, Ireland’s government announced plans in August to plant 22m trees each year until 2040, while New Zealand has pledged to plant 1bn by 2028.

According to United Nations’ figures for 2019, the number of HIV and AIDS-related deaths worldwide has decreased by a third since 2010.

A number of endangered species are also witnessing a recovery. For example, the number of mountain gorillas increased in east Africa. Elsewhere, India’s wild tiger population grew 30%, to number almost 3,000, and humpback whales in the south-west Atlantic now number some 25,000.

So while we may think things are getting worse, there is so much for us to be thankful for and rejoice in.

Alex Orr

Marchmont Road