|A BIT FROM ME
With our February issue, may we wish you a happy
and healthy 2020!
I wonder how many of our readers managed to visit the
island over the Christmas period. Perhaps you joined one of our
special church services at St.Mary's. Thank you to all those
who contributed to the success of Christingle, Carol Service (with a
choir!), Midnight Mass. And if you visited at night - thank you
to those who set up that splendid community Christmas light display in the
If you visited the island recently, we hope you weren't too shocked
by the condition of our causeway and coast roads. Maybe you can
now understand the grumbles of those with no alternative than to face
such conditions daily. And we caution even frequent visitors to: always check the safe crossing
Do take care when wandering around the village. Whilst our council
has now repaired the balustrade on the bridge, you will immediately
notice that their budgets do not yet seem
able to fixed the numerous defects in our lanes, pathways, bridleways, potholes and
pavements. And it doesn't help that strong winter winds have added
fallen leaves and branches to litter our verges. Good advice might
be to remember that in this
very rural area, think about opting for stout footwear.
Cautions: please help to reduce the problems we experience from seagulls
by not feeding them; a 'word to the wise' for those bringing dogs: the
council is actively pursuing a �1000 fine for dog-fouling; finally,
please keep dogs under strict control.
By the time our newsletter reaches you, on 1st February 2020 the UK will no
longer be part of the European Economic Community. Though
a democratic vote, by no means was the entire
population in favour of leaving. To our European neighbours, we remain the same nation, your
friends, your allies.
Thank you to all our writers - particularly to Rachel
who sent in the song her father had been singing over the Christmas
period. I had hoped to obtain a sound byte....
We really do hope that you enjoy the February issue and look
forward to getting in touch in March.
|Rev Canon David Adam|
Vicar of Holy
Rev Canon David
Perhaps like me, visitors who knew him will be saddened
to hear the news that Rev Canon David Adam has died, at
his home at Waren Mill, in the morning of Friday
Very often seen without clerical collar, even in a
crowd there was something about David that made him stand out. He was our
Vicar 1990-2003 becoming globally known and well-loved as
a poet and author of many books. Throughout his term
David continued to uphold what had become a St.Mary's tradition to
maintain three daily services.
During the mid-90s David was one of small group of us who originated island website policy. The newsletter
you are reading derived from his community newsletter, 'The
Holy Island Times'.
Please feel free to write in if
you have a memory or photograph of David to share - or indeed anything
to do with the Island or its people both
past and present.
|HOLY ISLAND CofE FIRST SCHOOL
It's been a busy month as usual here at Holy Island First School
and January seems to be flying over; we've already had a visit to
Newcastle and are looking forward to Lowick School joining us on the
island again at the end of the month.
We'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came to our
Christmas tea and coffee afternoon on 12th December. The event was
held to say thanks for your support over the year and for voting for
our school to receive funding from the Parish Council for our trim
trail. It was great to see so many of you in school again! Thank you
to Alison Murray and Pat Tidy who very kindly came into school to
teach Scarlett-Beau and Lily-Ella some Christmas songs. It was a joy
to have Alison playing the piano in school during our event - it
turned into quite a 'sing-song' with everyone joining in and having
At Lowick Village Hall, our Christmas performance 'Christmas with
the Aliens' was a delight - and of course, we were very impressed
with the children's singing and acting during both performances;
it's not always easy being in the spotlight in front of such a large
As part of our 'out of this world' topic, we visited the Centre
for Life in Newcastle. The Space Zone was very popular with the
children because they got to take part in lots of practical
activities related to communication, research, travel and life in
space. We visited the planetarium which really brought our learning
about the planets to life. As a treat, we took the children ice
skating on the temporary rink outside the centre. They were amazing!
Everyone had a go and I think some of them surprised themselves with
their new found skill.
In school we have built an amazing spaceship and have been on
some super 'adventures' to different planets and moons.
Scarlett-Beau and Lily-Ella have made their own instrument panels
and computer screens and are completing space logs to record their
missions in words and pictures.
The trees at the bottom of our school field have been pruned.
They were getting very tall and spindly and the idea is that they
will now 'bush out' to give us more shelter from the wind. Speaking
of wind, those very windy days we had recently have made their mark
on our greenhouse in the garden. Mrs Ward had already repaired the
original greenhouse which we saved from the old garden. The good
news is that we have now ordered a replacement greenhouse. It's a
bit larger than the last one and will have sturdier polycarbonate
panels which will be much better. We are still harvesting our leeks
(thank you Sheila and David Lishman) and we have chard, cabbage,
broccoli, carrots, turnips and beetroot growing. Great! We will be
planning our planting for the new season in the next few weeks.
And our bulbs are growing! It is always a heart-warming sight to
see daffodils and bluebells poking their heads tentatively through
the cold winter soil. Dare we think that spring may be on the
|THE CROSSMAN HALL
The year started with bright sunny
days, followed by a day or two of a stiff wind from the west with
rain and 8c degrees or so then more wind and rain and frosts
returned. However, it is unusual to note that the grass is showing
signs of movement. Does this mean I've got to consider firing up the
mower ahead of normal?
The Town was dressed-overall with community and house Christmas
Lights, the display around the Cross was very effective. The village
looked very bonny.
On 2nd more than 100 locals gathered in the Hall for an Island
'soiree' the happy evening enjoyed a good gossip, a
drink or two, some food and then a bit of a dance.
The evening very well organised by Ashleigh and Charlette, who
with sense beyond their years arrange that the disco, well run by
Luke, played the music at a low volume during the first half
allowing us oldies a good 90 minutes to enjoy a heathy blather
before the volume was pumped up for the dancing.
The last Old Year/New Year communal event was (it's alarming to
think back to when) held 30+ years ago when Johnson & Brigham
Promotions, aided by their Company Secretary Lynn, organised a dance
in the Old Hall. It was a jam packed occasion and very successful
occasion and Charlie & Robert as promoters looked the bees knees
in their Black Tie outfits. Aye those were the days!
Christmas is always special and focused on the Children. Then on
the Island Old Year Night and New Year's Day was enthusiastically
celebrated by the adults. The tradition was to 'first foot' family
and friends soon after the New Year arrived and then back to the Pub
to eat and greet and then sleep.
On New Year's Day small groups of men, some dressed as guise's,
got together went First Footing around the village. More of
Some will recall that Simon Bevan retired as our Treasurer a year
or so ago. Since then Simon has acted ex officio maintaining a
watching brief over the hall finances. However, that will end in
December, when he will stand down from many of his voluntary tasks
and head for the land of pipe & slippers.
Several small works of maintenance are planned and we are
currently pricing a deep clean and coating of the main hall floor.
If the works goes ahead it will be timed not to interfere was any
David O' - Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
the new Crossman Hall website: email@example.com
|THE TAXI DRIVER'S SONG
[ The Taxi Driver's Song originated from before the advent of the
tidal causeway and is sung to the tune of 'Galway Bay' ]
If you ever cross the sands to Holy
Maybe just for a week or for a day
You'll see the
taxi's standing there waiting
To carry you across the Low and bay
Once again to hear the screeching of the gearbox
plays a tune upon his gears
To Charlie, Crow and all the other
That's music to the taxi drivers ears
Now the breeze is blowing o'er the sea from Half Thrush
perfumed by the tangle as they blow
And the women in the Big
Close diggin tatties
Speak a language that some strangers do not
Now some visitors come and try to teach us their ways
scorn us for being what we are
But they might as well go try and
catch a taxi
and get back o'er those sands for half a crown
For you're strangers when you first come to the island
are all good friends before you go away
And we wish you all the
best while you are with us
And hope you'll come back again some
They say there is to be a life here after
And somehow I'm sure
there's going to be
So I'll ask my god to let me make my
In this dear isle across the Low for me
Ed: Thank you to Rachel Patterson who sent this in on
behalf of her father. The images are original photos from
their family album and the one with the gentleman by the vehicle is
her Grandad. Apparently, the song is a personal favourite of
Dick's who had been singing it all weekend...
|OUR NATURALIST ON LINDISFARNE
EXTINCT BUT HAS THE GREAT AUK GONE
Each time I walk through the Anglo-Saxon excavations at Green
Shiel on my way to the North Shore or Snipe Point I think about a
spectacular seabird which is sadly now extinct.
Bones found during the excavations at this early farm site are
just one of three tantalising bits of evidence that the mighty Great
Auk once lived in our region.
Its closest living relative, the Razorbill, still does and is a
common sight at its breeding sites on the Farne while during autumn
and winter others regularly feed off the
Razorbills stand around 14 inches tall but Great Auks towered at
40 inches. They were the largest seabirds ever to have lived in the
Northern Hemisphere. Like most auks. they walked upright, had black
and white plumage and huge strong bills. Similarly, like today's
auks, they were designed by nature to dive deep to exploit fish
other birds couldn't reach. But, unlike the others, they were
artist's impression of Great Auk|
Great auks bred on small islands safe from four-legged predators.
Down the millennia they'd sacrificed flight, their wings developing
instead into powerful flippers. Early scientists gave them the
Latin name Pinguinus impennis. When explorers reached
Antarctica and found similar-looking flightless birds they named
them after the Great Auk. Hence we have penguins.
Great auks bred around the North Atlantic from Britain to
Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland and North America. We don't know if
they bred locally but there are those three tantalising bit of
evidence to prove their presence, perhaps as winter visitors from
The Reverend John Wallis, a naturalist and antiquarian, produced
a 1769 publication, "Natural history and antiquities of
Northumberland" in which told of the capture and taming of a local
"This curious and uncommon bird was taken alive a few years ago
on the island of Farn and presented to the late John William Bacon
Esq. of Etherston, with whom it grew so tame and familiar that it
would follow him with body erect to be fed," he wrote.
John Hancock, of Newcastle museum fame, and George Bolam of
Berwick, generally recognised as the region's founding father of
modern ornithology in the region, both had little doubt that it was
in fact a Great Auk.
Then in 1878 human and animal bones were found in a cave at
Whitburn Lizard, just south of the Tyne Estuary. The upper mandible
of a Great Auk was alongside the bones of Red and Roe deer, Badger,
Gannet, Razorbill and other birds which had been taken for
food. Unfortunately, they couldn't be dated.
In the 1990s, archaeologists and students from Leicester
University excavated the Green Shiel site. In its midden were the
bones of Great Auk as well as deer antlers and remains of seals,
whales, and birds still common locally, including Gannet, Cormorant,
Guillemot and various gulls and waders. Coins of the 9th Century
found at the site enabled accurate dating. Similar Great Auk remains
have been found right around the North Atlantic.
It seems obvious that down the centuries Great Auk was among
birds exploited for food, something which was probably opportunist
and perhaps had little effect on total numbers.
But by the 1500s everything had changed. Sailors exploring North
America found Great Auks in huge numbers along the coasts of
Newfoundland and Labrador. They were fearless of humans and being
flightless were very easy to catch. Wholesale slaughtered followed
for their meat and feathers.
Sailors would round them up and kill them with sticks. Planks
were also laid to boats and the hapless auks were driven up them
like sheep and killed as they fell into the holds. Early writers
told of 400 or 500 being killed at a time.
Similar slaughter took place in Britain, on St Kilda, where right
into the early 20th Century islanders relied for survival on
seabirds, by then mainly Fulmars and Gannets, harvested for meat,
oil, feathers and skins.
The widespread slaughter continued down the centuries and by the
early 1800s few remained where once they had been millions. That
very scarcity led to a rush to obtain those which remained for
museums and private collections and put even greater pressure on the
sad remnant population. Prices went up and to meet demand
hunters scoured their old haunts in a frantic race to find any
Great Auk and egg|
Photograph courtesy of the Natural
History Society of Northumbria.
The last British Great Auk seems to have been killed on St Kilda
around 1820. The final birds were caught and killed in Iceland in
June 1844 by three local hunters acting on behalf of a Danish
collector, effectively consigning the species to extinction.
After it became obvious that Great Auks were gone forever the
demand for skins and eggs soared. By the 1890s, when the average
annual income was just �83, over �300 was being paid in London for a
Around 80 stuffed Great Auks survive, nearly all in collections.
Two, an adult and a juvenile, are in the collection of the Great
North Museum; Hancock in Newcastle. One is probably the world's only
surviving example of a bird in immature plumage.
The adult was bought in either Holland or Germany and then
mounted by Hancock. The juvenile was originally in the Barnard
Castle collection of Marmaduke Tunstall (1743-1790). During the
Second World War they and an egg were moved to the Rothbury
area for safety because of fears the museum could be bombed as part
of the Luftwaffe's raids on industrial Tyneside.
The extinction of the Great Auk provides a terrible lesson from
the past for us today, even as scores of other animal and bird
species are under great threat and habitats such as the Amazon and
other rain forests are being felled and put to flame and our season
are being poisoned by plastics.
Yet amazingly there does seem to be a chance that the Great Auk
could rise from the dead. Scientists are currently considering
if it will ever be feasible to use DNA from Razorbills and the
feathers, bones and other museum remains to recreate this
It all sounds a bit like Jurassic Park and that was mainly
fantasy. But technology is coming along in leaps and bounds
and perhaps science fantasy can one day become science fact. Only
time will tell if the Great Auk, or something very like it, can be
brought back, perhaps even to grace our local waters once
A Happy New Year to you all.
January brings the realisation that we will soon be back open to
the public and that there is always loads to do before then. This
year feels especially busy as we have a lot to prepare for with a
whole new installation coming in for the new season.
As part of this there will be some collections pieces returning -
not all of it just yet but a good number - and that all needs to be
planned around; new underlay is needed for returning rugs, new
fixings need for mirrors on walls, and the items themselves need to
be checked and cleaned before opening. We are also getting a little
bit of painting done in certain areas where the condition of the
walls allows; the rest of the castle is scheduled to be painted this
coming November - the final job of the major project you could say -
but that is dependent on how well the walls are drying out. I would
certainly appreciate a dry summer in that regard.
John Bevan recently showed me some photographs that were being
catalogued by the Berwick Archives belonging to the Royal
Northumberland Yacht Club down in Blyth. I am always excited to see
any images of the castle which are new to me but having seen many
hundreds over the years they often conform to a certain type
depending on their age. These we reportedly taken in 1901 and so
usually photos from this period would show the castle from the
village; with a couple of boats moored in the Ouse perhaps and maybe
even a bit of the still-standing Cocklestone Jetty. This bunch of
images did certainly feature 'this' picture, but it also had one
which caught my eye in particular. Any image from inside the castle
walls prior to Hudson's time (1902-20) are very rare and this one
ticked that box. Not only that, it was taken on the north facing
Queen Battery - where the Long Gallery and three bedrooms were later
built and so now is now longer visible. Even better than that is
that the photo features six figures; four men and two ladies. One of
the men is of real interest as I think it might be the architect
Edwin Lutyens. There are no photos of Lutyens at Lindisfarne, which
given the impact he had on the place is a real shame. The chance
that one may have come to light is extraordinary, and how
appropriate that he is standing (if it is him) on the area of the
castle where he made the most fundamental changes. I have asked his
family and my contacts in The Lutyens Trust to help me in
identifying the folk in the picture and I am hoping to go down to
Blyth soon to see the originals. I won't reproduce the picture here
just now as I don't yet have permission but hopefully I can share it
I am now off to continue deep-cleaning the castle Lutyens so
lovingly restored (although those brick floors aren't the easiest
things to vacuum if I'm honest Edwin) and continue preparing for
opening. We have a really exciting installation coming which is
going to be totally different to anything we have done before and
will allow us to tell more and more stories from the castle's past.
I will be able to update you more about this next month.
In the meantime I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and don't
have too many January blues (don't worry, it'll be February soon!)
Nick Lewis, Lindisfarne Castle
@NTNorthd_Coast 01289 389903
|NATURAL ENGLAND LINDISFARNE NNR
A Happy New Year to all from Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve!
There was no rest for the wicked as daily stock checks of the
cows and sheep continued throughout the festive period. With the
cattle being able to roam over 110+ hectares, it made finding them
sometimes tricky, but a quick dash to the top of a windswept dune
often revealed their location. The sheep weren't nearly as difficult
and always appeared happy to see a member of staff rambling towards
They have done a fantastic job since October ridding areas of
rank vegetation, opening up the sward and tackling some of the
invasive species such as Michelmas Daisy and Pirri-pirri Burr.
However, all good things must come to an end, and so early in
January we said goodbye to our Bovine and Ovine friends as they made
their way back to farm.
December and January have been a particularly stormy period with
gales battering the coastline on a regular basis. Sadly, this has
brought an increase of plastic (particularly balloons) being blown
across the Reserve, further highlighting the plastic plague that
blights our landscape. In early January the volunteers were out
along the shores of Goswick Sands litterpicking. A good haul was
found and taken away. Over the next couple of months a series of
litterpicks will be undertaken across the Reserve to prepare for the
arrival of breeding birds; a reminder that spring is just around the
Over the last couple of months the volunteers have also been
tackling scrub in the Snook area. We remove a lot of the Hawthorn
regeneration in order to keep the important duneland habitat from
reverting to woodland and scrubbing up. The mature growth is often
left as this forms part of a healthy dune ecosystem, providing
refuge and food for a large variety of invertebrate and bird
Looking forward to 2020 it's going to be another busy year as we
look to build on the successes of 2019. Our events programme will be
beginning in the spring with a host of family crafts and guided
events throughout the year. We will also be holding two 'Celebration
of Nature' festivals showing the breadth of work undertaken by
Natural England as well as showcasing the habitats and species that
form the Reserve. Our events leaflet will be published soon with
finalised dates, so keep your eyes peeled on our social media
accounts and noticeboards around the Reserve
We have also started to review the byelaws which cover the whole
of the National Nature Reserve. This will involve removing
byelaws which are now redundant and strengthening or adding byelaws
to ensure the National Nature Reserve is better protected in the
future. We will share the details with you in the coming
Lindisfarne & Newham
|NORTHUMBERLAND COAST AONB
|Our Fabulous Coastline|
Public Consultation opens on plan for the
Consultation has opened on an important plan that will help to
shape the future of the Northumberland coast.
Local people are being asked to provide comments on the draft
Management Plan for the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The Management Plan is the single most important document for the
Northumberland Coast AONB. It sets out long term aims and objectives
that will ensure that this nationally important landscape is
conserved and enhanced for future generations to enjoy as it
is today. It is a legal requirement for Local Authorities to review
statutory management plans for AONBs every year. This draft plan,
covering the period 2020-2024 has been prepared by the
Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership on behalf of Northumberland
Chairman of the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership Cllr Jeff
Watson said "In a time of uncertainty with both challenges and
opportunities ahead, the Plan sets out clear objectives and policies
designed to provide a framework for action by the AONB Partnership,
the County Council, partner organisations, farmers, businesses,
community groups and residents over the last five years.
"The AONB is a living working place and local people are at the
heart of protecting the coastline and adjacent countryside and
safeguarding its future. We really hope that local people will
engage with this consultation and let us know what they think of the
draft plan and we look forward to receiving these comments over the
next few weeks"
The consultation is open for six weeks from Monday 20th January
until Monday 2nd March 2020 and people can comment on the draft plan
via the AONB website at www.northumberlandcoastaonb.org/management-plan/
Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership
County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 2EF
|FROM FORD & ETAL
8th February: Live Music at Etal Village Hall - Hot Club
Etal Village Hall welcomes Hot Club du Nord on Saturday 8th
November for a night of hot club/gipsy jazz. The group brings to
life the classic 1930s and 1940s repertoire of Django Reinhardt and
Stephane Grappelli's Hot Club de France. It features Emma Fisk, a
British Jazz Awards nominee, on violin, James Birkett and David
Harris on guitars, and Bruce Rollo on double bass. Tickets cost �12,
to book contact Steve Taylor: 01890 820566, firstname.lastname@example.org
During February half-term (weather permitting!)
most attractions will be open across the estates. Heatherslaw
Light Railway is open 17th-20th February with diesel trains at 11am,
12 noon, 1 & 2pm. The Heatherslaw Corn Mill site
(including tearoom and shops) and Lady Waterford Hall are open
18th-21st February from 11am-3pm. Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre
opens Tuesday-Sunday for the season from early February.
Snowdrops should be in full bloom that week and we are
encouraging visitors to follow the snowdrop walks in Etal and Ford
|Etal Castle - Early
|FROM THE COMMUNITY OF AIDAN AND HILDA
||Rev Ray Simpson|
Lars Knutsen, a Norwegian who worked in USA has
recently returned to Britain, He writes how his visits to
Lindisfarne were a formative time for him:
"So Lindisfarne has always been special to me as
one of those "thin" places where I was aware of the claims of God on
my life. I would always in my youth feel a sense of peace there,
even though many years would go by before I came to understand why.
In November 1983 my then girlfriend and I had a very meaningful long
weekend; we drove to St. Albans to submit my Ph.D. thesis for
binding, and then drove up to North Northumberland. We spent
some hours on Lindisfarne and it became clear to us there that we
were destined to spend our lives together as husband and wife,
soul-mates and best friends. We have just celebrated 35 years
of marriage, and I would not be the person I am if I had not met
her; we are also gifted with three wonderful children. In
terms of life and spiritual formation, feedback from a godly wife
can be one of the best ways in which the Lord speaks to
Coming to an understanding of the ten elements of
the Way and compiling a Way of Life has also provided a spiritual
balance in my life, though I am a far from a perfect person, and am
therefore an imperfect practitioner of this way of following
When I accepted a job offer with a Biotech company
in USA in 2006 a new chapter of life started, and I became
part of the US Community of Aidan and Hilda. This led to the
opportunity of sharing my journey of faith with people... I became a
US Citizen under Barack Obama in November 2015, and although very
fond of North America, moved back to care for and elderly parent/
parents-in-law in 2016. I am now a Voyager in the UK, living in
coastal Essex near Colchester.
I was asked what the 25th
Anniversary Community of Aidan and Hilda Gathering in Yarnfield,
Oxon felt like, and my response was "it was like being with a
'Cloud of Witnesses'". Hebrews 12.1 tells us: "Therefore, since we
are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off
everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and
let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Lars J.S. Knutsen "
|FROM OUR CHURCHES
||Rev Canon Dr Sarah
Hills & Rev Rachel Poolman |
Dear friends, I am writing this at the end of the Week of
Prayer for Christian Unity - a global event where Christians from
different backgrounds come together to pray for an end to unhealthy
division in the church.
On Holy Island our 3 church buildings - St Mary's Church of
England, St Aidan's Roman Catholic and St Cuthbert's United Reformed
each have their own beauty, and each give visitors and worshippers
different ways of spending time with God. However, the fact
that we have distinct identities does not mean that we are in
competition, or divided when it comes to the bedrock of our faith
and our willingness to serve others.
Unity is something we still strive towards as Christians;
respecting difference is a challenge when positions of principle and
belief are deeply held, and we are certainly nowhere near it yet.
The call to unity is not just a challenge for our churches, but
for our society as a whole. Unless something dramatic has
happened since writing this, the UK will have left the European
Union by February 1st. We have all seen the vitriol and
division that has been part of the long journey of getting to this
point. The nature of our public debate has seemed to have
become increasingly personal, and appalling attacks are made on
people across the political spectrum through the anonymity of social
media. This unhealthy tone can have a trickledown effect into
conversations at every level.
So, what does unity mean to us, not just in the context of
Brexit, but in working for the common good in our country and in our
communities ? Are we individually able to find a way of respecting
those whose deeply held views are radically opposed to our own
? As we travel onwards together through life we can each play
our part in creating a society of kindness that will not tolerate
hatred wherever it comes from, and wherever it is directed.
The prayer attributed to St Francis of Assisi has a resonant
challenge for us all:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair,
where there is darkness, light;
where there is
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
consoled as to console,
to be understood as to
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
is in dying that we are born to eternal life.