|A BIT FROM ME
Welcome to our April newsletter.
As in much of the rest of our world, these are sad times indeed.
Our government has restricted movement nationwide with the exception
of key workers and essential services.
Not only are we in a very remote part of northumberland, we live
on a tidal island regularly cut off from the mainland by the tide.
In an emergency, we no longer have local RAF helicopter support and
long distances are involved should hospilisation become
During this time of national emergency our Parish Council asks
that visitors should keep away >> PC notice
Access is restricted to those who
permanently reside here - other than essential suppliers, key
workers and emergency services.
Other than our local
post office, shops, businesses, attractions, car parks, toilets
even our churches are closed.
It seems that Covid-19 is a recent mutation of Coronavirus.
A worldwide race is on to develop an antiviral. Thorough
handwashing with soap and water is recommended against potential
contamination. Obviously, any risk is reduced by practising
social-distancing - hence the request by our PC.
Having foreseen a developing crisis, under the leadership of
the vicar, various island bodies came together to form an island
support group. Primary needs, particularly for an aging community,
are already in hand and it is rewarding to find residents
offering help of all kinds. Bamburgh View have even done
quite a professiional job is setting up http://holyislandradio.uk/ as
a podcast. Have a listen! The HISG is regulary reviewing
the developing local and national circumstances.
Individuals are permitted to venture out for essential shopping.
We had tried to shop online only to discover delivery slots
were not available for at least 3-weeks. So we were pleased to
find shopping periods of an hour three times weekly had been set
aside for us. However, disapointment followed as we were greeted by
empty toiletries shelves. And we met an uncompromising
manageress, unable to comprehend that the island community
would only be able to shop using the current time allocations
on alternate weeks - when the causeway was open ....
As I write the sun is shining and the clock is are about to
'Spring forward'. As forecast, cold winds from the arctic are
Leaving the gloom, doom and negativity behind let us get on with
I'm delighted to report that almost all our authors writers
have given up their time to write again this month. This will be the
second time Max has written and what wonderful pictures he is
producing from his HI observatory. At night I walk the dog past
Max's house and look in awe up into our black sky. In his photo
this month of 'NGC 5194 and its smaller companion NGC 5195' we
are viewing from a distance I find impossible to
comprehend - 25 million light-years, Using that same
scale, I find it impossible to guage how far they might be
apart and wonder what each might look like when viewed from the
other. Similarly, how might our part of space look if there were
intelligent life looking back....
We hope that you enjoy this month's newsletter and look forward
to getting in touch in May.
Most of all, during these very dark, pandemic days our
thoughts are with you all.
|HOLY ISLAND CofE FIRST SCHOOL
March 2020 has been very different for our school community of
Lowick and Holy Island First Schools. For the last week we have had
an 'end of term' feeling across the school and since finding out
that schools were likely to close, we have tried to make the last
few days calm and positive for our pupils.
We have been very busy getting home learning packs ready for the
children and over the coming weeks, we will be sending learning
videos, resources and activities home via our website. This can be a
tricky time for parents and we are in touch and available to help
and support our parents and children.
Earlier in the month we visited our island post office. We have
been learning about writing letters and 'the journey of a letter' in
our English and geography lessons. We were warmly welcomed by Debbie
in the post office and she showed us around and explained what
happens to our letters when we post them. Thank you Debbie! We were
truly inspired and have built a post office in our classroom. The
girls have really enjoyed role-playing with letters, parcels and
stamps - it has been a great way to get used to paying with cash and
working out totals. We have been writing letters to each other and I
have been very impressed with the enthusiasm shown by both girls
with their writing and counting.
Brian has been giving our school field the first two cuts - thank
you Brian, the field is looking good! And now that those winds seem
to have died down, Karen and Richard are keen to get our greenhouse
built in the garden. At least we can get some things growing and
that's always a positive and hopeful job to do. The daffodils in the
school garden are magnificent and our tulips are getting ready to
bloom. We have potatoes 'chitting' and our tomato seeds are
sown. Carl (my husband) also has some beautiful lavender
plants to go in along the side of the path next to the garden gate.
We will keep things going for Scarlett-Beau and Lily-Ella and
hopefully it won't be too long before things get back to normal and
our gardening club can begin again.
These are uncertain times and we are all taking each day as it
comes. If you get the chance, have a look at our rainbow message in
our school windows. We have written a message of love and hope and
the girls have made some beautiful rainbows to brighten our
Take care all,
|THE CROSSMAN HALL
The CORONAVIRUS or CORVID 19 is a
new disease that affects the lungs and airways, it can be severely
debilitating. Our Government, advised by medical health specialists
have issued advice suggesting ways to avoid infection.
I will not repeat the advice issued by the NHS it is much
publicised by the media on how to protect ourselves from this now
notifiable disease. As for self-isolation to try and keep clear of
the virus, many elderly have been practising that for years!
This note is to alert you to the possibility that events in the
Hall may be affected and to remind those who use the hall to follow
all advice given by the NHS and our local Health Centre that will
help reduce the risk of becoming ill.
If you use or have used the Hall;
- wash your hands
- clean all hard surfaces that you have
The Hall Coffee Morning on Monday 13 April 2020, has been
postponed until a later date.
David O' - Contact email@example.com
the new Crossman Hall website: firstname.lastname@example.org
|OUR NATURALIST ON LINDISFARNE
WELCOME RETURN OF THE SANDWICH
One of the most distinctive and noisy birds arriving locally
during April is the Sandwich Terns. They're a species with
far-carrying harsh calls which means that you normally hear them
before you see them.
But when you do it's a sign that spring really has arrived.
Typically, I find my first of the season when I'm on the Heugh
looking out towards the Black Law and the Beacons.
Their piercing calls are normally the first evidence of their
arrival and a careful scan out across the Harbour usually reveals
They have a loping and buoyant flight with deep wing beats and
their pure white plumage shows well against the water. If I'm
lucky one or two will approach closely and hover high above the
water before plunging for their first small fish of the visit. They
always present a magnificent sight which I look forward to each
Sandwich Terns are the largest and always the first of the five
tern species which regularly breed in Northumberland to arrive
offshore. The first are present from late March with numbers rapidly
increasing during April.
As numbers build up locally it's often possible to find groups of
100 or more in noisy pre-breeding gatherings at high tide on the low
rocks at the northern end of St Cuthbert's Island. These gatherings
give a chance for a closer look at these robust seabirds.
Roughly the size of Black-headed Gulls, they have a slimmer
appearance. They have black caps, which often look ragged, stout
black bills tipped in yellow and short black legs and, of course,
that snowy plumage which shows so well at distance.
Birds constantly come and go to this favoured St Cuthbert's
resting area, always with those screeching calls. Early in the
season males have to prove their skill to the females by catching
fish, usually Sand Eels when they are present, and bringing them
into this roost.
Elaborate presentation ceremonies take place, the male in
waddling walk providing his gleaming silvered offering to the
waiting female. If he's successful mating can follow.
By May most have moved off to the Farne Islands to breed although
fishing birds remain very common off the island right through the
I'm often asked about their name. It's got nothing to do with
food but comes from the Kent town of Sandwich where the species was
first scientifically described back in 1784.
It's always seemed to me a bit of a parochial name for a bird
which has a huge oceanic distribution, taking in Europe and the
eastern seaboard of both North and South America with other
wandering to the shores of India and East Africa.
|An adult Sandwich Tern showing its ragged black
Photo: Mike S Hodgson
Our local birds spend the winter months around the Mediterranean
and along the coasts of West African before returning to us in
spring to gather in dense nesting colonies, typically on islands and
safe from the threat of ground predators.
In the past Sandwich Terns occasionally bred alongside the
regular Arctic, Common and Little terns at the Black Law. More
recently, breeding has been confined to the Farne Islands and Coquet
In both of those colonies numbers have fluctuated wildly over the
years. Back in the 1980s more than 4,000 pairs bred on the Farnes
while a more recent peak of 1,700 pairs was on Coquet in 2011.
Since then the species seems to have been in a downward spiral
with the latest available figures showing that only 424 pairs
nesting on the Farnes in 2018. The reduction on Coquet Island was
much less pronounced with 1,415 pairs during the same year.
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much scientific evidence
to explain the current downward trend. Perhaps, like many other
seabirds, Sandwich Terns are suffering from the gradual warming of
the seas which is affecting the distribution of the fish on which
they totally depend.
When the breeding season is over some Sandwich Terns, accompanied
by their fledged young, will return to linger at St Cuthbert's into
late summer. By then the adults go off fishing and return to
the little islet to feed their young, an essential step towards
preparing them for migration southwards.
Most Sandwich Terns will have gone during September with only the
occasional birds remaining in October. Please enjoy them while
When I write these articles, I
always open the last one I submitted (in this case February 2020)
and read over it; the idea being that I don't repeat myself. Doing
it this time was a strange experience because usually I am worried
about repeating myself, never sure if I mentioned 'this' last month
or promised to talk about 'that' next month.
No such worries concern me writing this month, such is the
extraordinary situation we and the wider world find ourselves in.
There was certainly no mention last month of terms like
'self-isolation', or 'social-distancing', or even 'toilet-roll
stockpiling'. It seems incredible that only a week or two ago -
according to my note book -I was preparing for the upcoming
exhibition installation, programming maintenance work at the castle,
and planning to head out to Inner Farne to get the chapel ready for
opening to the public on 1 April.
The spread of COVID-19 though has of course rendered all of the
above as absolutely trivial. The castle will be closed to the public
until further notice as of less than an hour and a half from when
I'm typing (4pm on 20th March for those keeping score) and most of
the staff will be working from home. The exceptions being Daniel and
I who will be still coming over - not at the same time - to keep the
place ticking over. The open spaces at the castle are of course
staying open and we would still encourage people to use them,
bearing in mind the aforementioned social-distancing. I'm sure when
we know anything about reopening, the message will circulate
reasonably quickly, but I don't know anything more than that.
We are still going to install the exhibition Limelight so that
once re-opening is scheduled, it is up and running. You can see a
little teaser video on our website and social media channels if
you'd like to know more. It even seems trivial saying that to be
honest, but that is my next thing to think about here.
As for the next few weeks I'll be trying to keep a wife and two
little boys entertained while she and I work from home, but
otherwise I hope you all stay safe and look after yourselves and
each other. If you need anything from me please get in touch, and
I'll no doubt see you on the other side of this.
Nick Lewis, Lindisfarne Castle
@NTNorthd_Coast Phone: 01289 389903
|NATURAL ENGLAND LINDISFARNE NNR
I know everyone is sick of the sound of it but I'm
going to start with addressing the elephant in the room...
Coronavirus. Events over the last week have taken over the airwaves
and will fundamentally change the way we all live and work for the
time being. Some will be hit harder than others but even on a remote
area such as this, our work on the Reserve will change, with public
engagement and volunteer work put on hold.
The latest advice as I write this article is that the
Reserve is still open for people to enjoy but we ask if you are
showing any symptoms or a member of your household is symptomatic
then please do not visit the Reserve. Also when visiting avoid large
groups, especially in confined spaces such as bird hides.
This advice is likely to change as we move forward but
you can keep updated on our social media platforms and blog website.
We have put information signs up at the main access points which
will be updated should guidance change.
Anyway enough of the doom and gloom. In the last
couple of weeks we have seen the signs that spring is beginning to
stir amongst the dunes. Ground nesting birds such as Meadow Pipits
and Skylarks can now be heard regularly singing above their
prospective territory and the first Chiffchaffs have been spotted.
Frogs spawn has been spotted in great clumps amongst the slacks and
flowers are beginning to bloom as well. Days are getting longer and
we are finally getting a bit of a break from the relentless storms.
Geese are now on the move as well with the vast flocks
of autumn and winter becoming smaller and smaller as they head to
their northern breeding grounds.
Practical work on the Reserve has continued with the
last of the scrub bashes of the winter. Staff and volunteers alike
have been pitting themselves against Hawthorn regeneration as it
stubbornly clings to the ground. We have also continued to litter
pick across the Reserve digging out rope and carrying tyres across
As soon as the winter practical management concludes
our attention turns to the shorebird season. All of the breeding
species of Tern on the Reserve are currently closing in fast on UK
shores having travelled from the West coast of Africa and beyond.
Ringed Plovers too, will soon be displaying to each other along the
coastline so keep your eyes and ears peeled but be careful not to
disturb them. From the end of April we will be fencing off sections
of beaches to provide a safe refuge for these declining birds to
nest and rear their young free from human and dog disturbance.
Volunteers will be out to monitoring their numbers and breeding
success. We will keep you updated as the season progresses.
As for now we hope everyone stays healthy and
hopefully we will be able to get back to some sense of normality
Lindisfarne & Newham NNRs
When I first started photographing our night sky from Holy Island
a couple of years ago, I was not really aware how the position of
the stars, galaxies and nebulae constantly changes with the
seasons. Nor did I fully appreciate how significant our
northerly latitude here is in determining what objects are visible
from my observatory on Chare Ends. Now I have become acutely
aware of these factors, both of which are critical for determining
the best targets to select on the next clear night.
The reason is simple why the constellations (in other words the
different regions of the night sky) that are visible on any given
night change gradually through the seasons. It is because as
the Earth orbits the Sun, the hemisphere of our planet that is in
darkness looks out into the Universe each night in a slightly
different direction. One complete orbit of the Sun takes - by
definition - one year. So over 12 months, as spring turns to
summer to autumn and then winter, the night side of the Earth makes
a complete inspection circuit of the heavens.
NGC 5194 and its smaller companion NGC
Approximately 25 million light-years away in the
constellation Canes Venatici
Look up on a clear night in April and you will not see the Milky
Way, which is best viewed in a few months time during high
summer. Instead, at the present time of year, we are able to
look out beyond our own galaxy and out into very deep space.
And what do we find there? The answer is more galaxies like
our own Milky Way - incredible numbers of them, each huge
collections of stars. And by "incredible" and "huge" I really do
mean mind-bogglingly enormous! A typical galaxy contains
several hundred billion stars! And we know there are hundreds
of billions of galaxies in the observable universe. Galaxies really
are like grains of sand.
So Spring is Galaxy Season and galaxies come in all shapes and
sizes. The Milky Way, on the edge of which our own Solar
System is located, is a spiral galaxy, with long curving "arms"
composed of myriad stars that are relatively closer to one another
causing these lanes to appear almost solid. In reality though
the individual stars are far, far apart from one another. Even
the most densely packed galaxies are mainly empty space. Some
galaxies have been observed to collide, passing through one another
like ghosts with no stars actually hitting each other. A
spectacular example is the Whirlpool Galaxy (pictured), which is
actually two interacting galaxies: NGC 5194 and its smaller
companion NGC 5195. This pair are located approximately 25 million
light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici.
Holy Island in Spring is ideally positioned for viewing the
Whirlpool Galaxy, which lies in the northern sky not far from the
Plough (the saucepan-shaped pattern of bright stars that is handy
for finding Polaris). Our northerly latitude is both a benefit
and a disadvantage for the purposes of astronomy. On the plus
side, it means that northerly objects such as the Whirlpool Galaxy
are often visible high in the night sky, where they are best
positioned for photography. On the downside our very short
summer nights make astrophotography effectively impossible from
early May until mid-August when it never gets fully dark on Holy
There is another disadvantage of being located high in the
northern hemisphere. From here we can never view the many
wonderful astronomical marvels of the Southern
Hemisphere. For that reason I make use of telescopes in
Australia and in Chile that I can control remotely thanks to the new
high-speed internet that has recently reached the
|NORTHUMBERLAND COAST AONB
AONB Visitor Guide to be launched at
North Tourism Fair
This year's Northumberland Coast AONB Visitor Guide will once
again be available at the North Tourism Fair at Willowburn Sports
and Leisure Centre in Alnwick on Tuesday 17th March. It is the
nineth edition of this popular publication and this year features an
impressive image of Dunstanburgh Castle on its front cover, taken by
local photographer Gavin Duthie.
The guide is designed to be used once visitors are here. It is
full of information, great photos and aims to help visitors make the
most of their stay whilst encouraging them to help conserve this
unique landscape. This year, we have included an extra 16 page pull
out - Drive Less, See More - to help visitors get around the
Northumberland Coast without a car.
We strongly encourage small business and attractions to come
along next Tuesday to pick up copies of the Guide, ready for the
year ahead. We have printed 50,000 copies to meet demand. There will
also be other AONB leaflets to collect and a chance to chat with the
Catherine Gray from the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership
said: "This well-received guide is always very popular. It was
redesigned last year by Offstone Publishing; it's now a handy A4
size, but still retains all the essential information. It's a
must-have for visitors to the AONB".
The Guide is distributed through A-ha Distribution. If you wish
to be added to their mailing list, then please contact them on 0191
267 1220 or e-mail: email@example.com.
You can also collect copies from Visitor Information Centres or by
contacting the AONB office on 01670 622 644.
Northumberland Coast AONB
Partnership/Tel. 01670 622 644
|FROM FORD & ETAL
It seems that everything that had been planned for April has been
For the time being at least, our attractions are remaining
The two village shops are open but all tearooms and the pub are
Heatherslaw Cornmill is producing flour and selling this and its
cereals both at the mill (customers to phone/email before coming)
and via normal retail outlets.
Let's hope that people heed advice and stay close to home, in the
hope we can get through this quickly.
Regards - Elspeth
|FROM THE COMMUNITY OF AIDAN AND HILDA
So many events have had to be cancelled because of the corona
virus, but I was encouraged that our Members Guardian, Penny Warren,
was able to travel all the way from Devon to lead our last group
retreat at the Open Gate until conditions improve.
However, although the retreat on soul friendship was
cancelled, its leader, Scott Brennan agreed to do it on-line
with myself, and the number of bookings doubled!
I was due to fulfil a commitment made three years ago to travel
to three Lands End parishes in Cornwall to celebrate the 1500th
anniversary of the founding of one of them by Ireland's Saint
Sennen. He founded monastic communities in the mouths of
rivers such as Scattery Island at the river Shannon. One
tradition believes that our Saint Aidan was in charge of this
community a generation after Sennen, before going to Iona and
Lindisfarne. The locals on Scattery Island follow this
tradition. When it became clear that a ten hour train journey there
and back was asking for trouble, I asked my hosts if they would
bring my body back home if I died there. They replied that
they had a lovely orchard so it would not be necessary! However,
when the Prime Minister asked all over seventies not to travel I
cancelled the trip.
I thank all of you who came to or sent cards for my eightieth
birthday celebration at The Open Gate on March 8, and I thank Jutta
and team for the magnificent feast. I was so grateful we could
do this before the restrictions were imposed.
|FROM OUR CHURCHES
||Rev Canon Dr Sarah
Hills & Rev Rachel Poolman |
Easter Sunday falls on April 12th this year, so normally this
letter from the churches would be reflecting the most important
Christian festival ; Holy Week and Easter Sunday bring a profound
change to the number of services, and to the numbers attending.
This year the letter is being written the morning after the Prime
Minister has sent the country into lockdown for a minimum period of
three weeks. None of us know what this will feel like and by
the time you are reading this our landscape will probably have
I believe whole-heartedly that the message of Easter, with its
themes of death and resurrection, is a message for all time and
every situation, and speaks to us in every circumstance.
Equally whole-heartedly I believe that this is not a trite message
along the lines of 'just pray and Jesus will make everything all
The first followers of Jesus were thrust into a very frightening
and heartbreaking situation. The person they loved, trusted
and believed in had died, and they were left vulnerable, confused
and grieving. On the evening of the first Easter Sunday they
were locked away together feeling frightened of the world outside
and that their lives were changed forever. It was at this
moment they encountered the risen Christ, not being able to believe
what they saw. The resurrected Jesus came to them, not
as a figure such as we see in some paintings, pure and unreachable,
but as one who was scarred by life and by death. We are told that
the marks of the nails of crucifixion were visible in his hands and
feet, and that there was a gaping wound in his side from a soldier's
This Christ, who had suffered and struggled, who had been
despised and rejected, looked at his frightened friends and said
'Peace be with you'
That message 'Peace be with you' has been shared around the globe
by Christians ever since, in places of great pain, in places of
great joy, in ordinary days and on extraordinary days. It
speaks of hope, that we will move forward together, and that a new
day will come.
Of course, Christians do not have a monopoly on sharing peace,
and representatives of Christianity are just as capable as anyone
else of promoting the opposite. The message of Easter, that I
hope is relevant beyond the church, is that when the way ahead is
uncertain, or circumstances are frightening, peace and hope can be
worked towards together. What we see now is not all there is in
life, and a new time will come.
As a community no one here needs to be told to love their
neighbour, people are looking out for each other, and hopefully
everyone feels there is someone they can ask for help. There
is a proud heritage here of weathering storms and working
together. Our forbears have been through tough times and come
through even though they've faced a battering. And, with this
perspective, we must not forget to look out for signs of joy, beauty
Peace be with you !
us to be with one another
...even if at a physical
Help us to build a kinder world
To love and to care
To be sensible and not to
Help us to grieve
to be disappointed
and above all, to hope
Because together we