• A bit from me...
  • Crossman Hall
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • Mother nature gets her boots on!
  • From the community of Aidan and Hilda
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • St Mary's notices
St Aidan of Lindisfarne
A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

Dear *|MMERGE3|* ,

Welcome, to our June newsletter.

For much of the past month evenings on the island have seemed shrouded by North Sea mist. Nevertheless, huge numbers of visitors have been to see us particularly last weekend our national Spring bank holiday. And if you're one of those who braved the journey and visited Lindisfarne Priory you might have noticed that the Manor House Hotel has interspersed St Aidan's age-old backdrop with a large Red Indian wigwam. There is much concern over how long it is likely to remain amongst Lindisfarne's heritage.

I am not sorry to keep harping about the appalling state of the only road between us and the mainland. Those visiting will have found that quite long stretches of the road surface are breaking up. There are now countless potholes - many quite deep. Cyclist take care - particularly those frequent family groups amongst the hikers and walkers, coaches, buses, haulage lorries, cars. Often, we see these 'family-strings' braving the conditions: from kids bikes (occasionally fitted with stabilisers) through the rest of the family to Mum and Dad (who perhaps also has a fitted baby seat). Please consider the risk - please take care.

Well - at last the 'pressing the button' is with us. I am without reports from some of our regular writers. As in the rest of the country like our URC minister some may well be on holiday. I am hoping that we might find a way of overcoming the problem that 'the vacancy' at St Mary's brings. Julie from 'Hospice Care' sent a huge list of 'Open Garden Events'. I have included the nearest one to us - which occurs at 'Etal Manor' in October! Otherwise thank you to all writers who have sent in their contributions this month.

We hope that you enjoy the fruit of our work and look forward to getting in touch again next month.

Geoff Porter
Editor (SitEzine)


It has been a busy month with the fitness and games area well used, but I'm less certain about the progress of the Yoga classes.

May also saw the Hall hosting its first Wedding Breakfast; congratulations Rosemary & Dave.

Contact has been re-established with the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) reference the final payment covering the last phase of the project; the installation and restoration of the land along the track of the rainwater drain that connects with the main sewer.

Additionally, several meeting were held with the Project Manager(s), the Principal Contractor, the Occupier of the land and ourselves. It's all moving ahead and work will be completed soon.

It is some time since a list of Trustees/Committee Members was published. Set out below is list of those who managed the Hall. If you have any queries please contact any one of them and they will bring any issues that they cannot resolve to a full meeting.

Melville Walker

During the demolition of the old building and construction phase, a tree planted honouring the memory of Melville Walker was removed. We had hoped to plant another tree dedicated to Melville's memory. However, an opinion voiced by the County Archaeologists Department that tree roots may damage the underground archaeology.

We have now decided to remember the late Melville, a dearly missed friend, by naming the principal meeting room the Melville Walker Room.

I know a number of Islanders have photographs of Mel and I would like to borrow and copy some for display in his room. The photos, would, after copying would be returned. Please let me or any Trustee know if you have a picture that we can borrow and copy for display.

Summer Concerts by Andy & Margaret Watchorn

Andy & Margaret will play a range of traditional music from Northumberland and beyond. Featuring the small-pipes, fiddle, guitar, voice and nyckelharpa.

The dates are:

Tuesday 12 June at 19:30
Tuesday 10 July at 19:30
Thursday 23 August at 19:30
Tuesday 18 September at 19:30

Road Repairs!!!!

It was good to see the Highways bucket & spade gang out trying to infill some of the more extreme holes in the road. It's not the workers fault that the results are short lived resulting is more holes and bumps. In many places, is like a third world track. Come on NCC Highways spend some of the thousands you make in a day from Parking fees and make our road safer and reduce the rust promoting sludge that frequently gathers along the Causeway.

David O'


The Castle has been open for 8 weeks now and it almost feels like we're back to normal. The first few weeks after Easter saw the 'Empty Spaces' experience in the Castle which gave that rare chance to see the place for what it is - devoid of distractions like historic furniture or rugs on the floor. The architecture shone out like never before and was really popular with visitors, many of whom want to come back and see the place again next year.

Since 5 May we have had the Anya Gallaccio art installation in the Castle and after a busy opening weekend with Press and VIP visits, the public have been able to see the pieces in the rooms and hear about Anya's thought process via leaflets and a short film being shown in the West Bedroom. Reaction has of course been both positive and negative as with any artistic display but it is generating a discussion in the building about her influences - notably Lutyens and Jekyll - and also the impact of the ongoing work on light levels in the rooms (along with the occasional bit of hammering or drilling coming from outside).

Speaking of which, we are now finally nearing the end of the main works at Lindisfarne. Remaining on the job list are tasks such as sneck-harling the Upper Battery elevations and the West building and re-leading the Upper Gallery roof now that the new joinery is complete (hence the white temporary roof). We also have a few additional jobs away from the restoration work, such as the installation of a new water supply up the north of the crag, and improvements to the drainage in the 'Loo with a View' on the south side. One or two jobs have had to be put off until the coming winter; both due to the complexity of the work and the relatively low priority they have - one such job is to paint the place of course, but another concerns a few changes to the Lower Battery water tanks under the surface, something which would be almost impossible to do while we are open to visitors.

The work on the Upper Battery will be complete in the next few weeks and then the temporary roof can be removed. One of the jobs the massive scaffold is doing - aside from giving working access to those high elevations - is supporting the weight of the temporary roof so with that gone, the scaffold can start to be dismantled. Without wanting to put a definitive date to when we'll be clear it should be sometime in the summer holidays, hopefully.

It is worth noting that in the shop we are selling plants grown in the Jekyll garden including the very popular sweet peas and a range of herbs, all from 2.00. There is also a promotion on ladies accessories starting on 24 May and running until the 6 June. When you are in there you'll see that Lorraine has taken on the supervisor's role from Biddy who has moved on to pastures new, but you'll still see Mel, Pauline and Maz from time to time too.

Best wishes
Lindisfarne Castle @NTLindisfarne
01289 389244 (press 1, then 1903)


Our unusual spring which started so late is now rapidly moving into summer and the island is certainly looking at its best and most colourful.

Many folk have commented on the suddenness of it all. We seemed to go from a cold early spring which lasted most of April into full-blown spring within the space of a couple of weeks. We certainly missed out on the usual slow and rather leisurely transition with greenery gradually and sedately appearing.

It was almost as if Mother Nature, left groggy by the battering of that famous Beast from the East with its freezing temperatures and snow, had suddenly awakened. She seemed then to have suddenly looked at the calendar, realized it was almost May, got her boots on and decided to do something about it fast.

The result was that the appearance of lush spring growth, greenery and early blossoms was compressed into just a fortnight instead of the usual couple of months. This was particularly noticeable in the lonnens. The transition from tiny pinpricks of green to full leaf seemed to take no time at all. Trees in the village were the same, small buds unfurling into full leaf in what seemed just a matter of days. One crab apple tree I noticed in bud on a Friday was in full blossom just three days later.

That wonderful spell of warm and sunny weather we all enjoyed over the early spring bank holiday certainly supercharged everything. The village gardens now look magnificent, banks around the Heugh and Jenny Bell's are blazing yellow with wild Wallflowers and I noticed that the first balls of Thrift or Sea Pinks in the most sheltered and sunniest spots also burst open during that period.

By the time you're reading this hopefully that whole areas of salt marsh alongside the road past the Snook should be glowing pink with thousands of bursting blooms.

The suddenness of it all brought the long-awaited big influx of Swallows which until then had been nothing more than an early trickle. In no time at all pairs moved into the regular prime sites and started nest building and refurbishment. Many will now be on eggs or even have small young. It has all seemed to happen with breakneck speed.
Because of the sunny and settled conditions which marked the first half of the month many migrant birds seem to have given the island a miss. When conditions are favourable they tend just to press on northwards without needing to come down to rest and feed.

Nevertheless there have been surprises. Each spring birders like me look out eagerly for "overshoots." That's the term used for migrant species which turn up, because of wind and weather or simply poor navigation skill, hundreds of miles north or west of their intended destinations.

During most spring periods birds which had intended to occupy nesting areas around the Mediterranean or eastwards across Europe and even into Asia, tend to turn up in Britain, much to our delight because many of them are great rarities.

There was a classic example at the end of April when a Glossy Ibis arrived at the Lough. These birds winter in Africa and breed in marshes in the eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Black Sea and on into Asia. Long-legged and with long curving bills, they are closely related to our familiar herons and egrets and behave in much the same way, feeding in muddy or sandy areas on small fish, amphibians, invertebrates and insects.

Judging by its plumage this was a sub-adult, probably one of last year's young. If it had been an adult its dark brown plumage would have carried the wonderful sheen which provides its name. It was obviously well off course, perhaps due to inexperience.

Not the most graceful of birds but this young Glossy Ibis was nevertheless a great find at the Lough.
Picture: Mike S Hodgson

There have been around a dozen previous individuals in Northumberland but this was the first for the island and Lindisfarne area in general.

It fed in the muddy area at the back of the Lough but flew off with a group of Mallards and didn't return. An hour later it turned at the Druridge Pools nature reserve where it remained in the general area, feeding in the shallow water in flooded fields, for more than a week. It was extremely approachable and often delved unconcerned by people just 15 or 20 yards away.

As if that wasn't enough, shortly afterwards an even rarer spring "overshoot" was found on the edge of the reserve at Waren Mill. This was another marsh dweller, a little bittern, normally a very secretive species even in areas around the Mediterranean where they are a reasonably common breeding species.

There had been only nine previous sightings in Northumberland, the last at Gosforth Park in 2014, but some going back to the Victorian era. It proved to be a one-day wonder but at least was present for long enough to enable a good number of folk to get along to see it.

These two new birds took the species list for the reserve and island up to a very impressive 339 and, I'm afraid, came just too late for inclusion in an updated version of my book, The Birds of Holy Island, which was at the printer's even while they were gracing the area. To paraphrase the old song, the author's lot is not a happy one!

NEWS FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

10th June The Bamburgh Run

A large group of veteran and vintage motorcycles dating back as 1910 will gather in Etal village before leaving at around 10am for an eighty mile road run, returning to the village around 2pm.  Visitors are welcome to come along for a chat and a cuppa, and to wave the bikes off on their journey.

16th June Etal Hall Live Music - with Nancy Kerr

Tickets 12 - please book and pay in advance.

Payment by cheque to 22, Etal Village, Cornhill-on-Tweed, TD12 4TW or contact us to arrange payment by BACS. Doors open music begins at 8.00pm. Bar on site.

24th June - "Ready Teddy Go!"  - at Heatherslaw Light Railway

Bring your own teddy or choose one from the ticket office and take in on the train for a day out at Ford & Etal.  Collect a 'teddy bear' passport before travelling to access special offers at different venues in Etal and Heatherslaw.  Return your teddy at the end of the day in exchange for a small prize.

Lady Waterford Bicentenary - Art Exhibition in 'The Watchtower Gallery' in Berwick

As part of the bicentenary year celebrating the life and legacy of Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, the Lady Waterford Trust invited a number of local High Schools to take part in an art competition.  The work is exhibited in  The Watchtower Gallery in Berwick, and can be viewed  from 12 noon to 4pm on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between Saturday 26th May and Friday 8th June. 

The Black Bull, Etal

After extensive refurbishment the only thatched pub in Northumberland re-opened to the public on 26th May.  There are a few finishing touches to add before the official opening in early/mid June when the pub will offer a lunchtime pub menu and an evening restaurant menu.

For more information visit: / 
Email: // Phone: 01890 820338


Tides and Seasons

Now that I drive in and out of the island more often I notice changes. For example, the posts and pot holes along the causeway, and the changing sands.

When I think back to when I first lived on the island a generation ago I notice many changes. The renovations to the castle, the large new village hall, and so many houses undergoing improvements.

Maybe the mix of reasons why people come to the island is also changing: bird watching and nature, a day out by the sea-side, pilgrimage and prayer, history and space to reflect.

I met David Adam last month at a church service on the mainland. It reminded me of his lines: 'Ebb tide, full tide, how life's beat  must go'. They are in his book Tides and Seasons, in which he writes  'yet in the ebb and flow, nothing is lost, only changed... Even in times of despair, we are made aware that there are other shores, eternal reaches, and that after the lowest ebb, the tide will flow again.'

I have recently had reminders of the low ebb. After travelling 27 hours back from a USA native location we were put out of the train at Newcastle, because someone had thrown themselves on the line. Then I heard of someone I know who had attempted suicide. Mental health issues are increasing.

In July I lead a retreat on the island on the theme of Tides and Seasons. I better re-read that book!

Ray Simpson
Founding Guardian, The international Community of Aidan and Hilda



  Pattern of worship for Sundays
8am Holy Communion (BCP) 
10.45am Parish Eucharist 
5.30pm Evensong
Pattern of worship for Weekdays
(Monday - Saturday)
Morning Prayer 7.30am
Holy Communion 8am
Evening Prayer 5.30pm




Friday 8 June at 7:00 pm

Richard Durrant celebrates the launch of Stringhenge the double album
by cycling his solo show from Orkney to Sussex throughout the month of June.
Catch one of these shows along the way as the maverick guitarist
cycles to the heart of Stringhenge.

free entry with a retiring collection

Photo by Kris Pawlowski



meet our hospice team