• A bit from me...
  • Crossman Hall
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • Goldcrest invasion from northern forests
  • Natural England Lindisfarne NNR
  • Lindisfarne Priory
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • From the community of Aidan and Hilda
  • From the Vicarage
  • Parish Diary
  • Pause for thought

17th December - Village Hall!

A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

Dear !*NAME*!,

Welcome to our November issue of Sitezine .

Our indian summer continues and our car parks filled with visitors, particularly this past, half-term, holiday week. Winds lightened at the beginning of the month and the falling Autumn leaves that I mentioned last month seem to have clung on with an extended lease of life. Mind you, if you are one of those who visited the island recently you will have noticed them now falling in abundance.

Amidst all your hustle and bustle the community closed silently together to mourn the loss of two of our number. Many will remember Sylvia Shell, who was a frequent writer for our 'Holy Island Times' and Patrick Dunne, who some will remember from the past selling those fabulous, soft-whippy, icecream cones from the corner shop which he ran with wife Thelma. Rest in peace dear Sylvia and Patrick. You are sadly missed.

Thank you to all our authors who have written in this month. We hope you enjoy the fruit of our work. We wish you a healthy and happy month and look forward to getting in touch again on 1st December.

God Bless - Geoff Porter

PS: I note the continuing success of the 'European Space Agency' with our Mars orbiter arriving safely on station with pin-point accuracy at a minmum (!) distance from Earth of 34 million miles. ESA experts are currently looking into the reason the  'Schiaparelli' lander seems to have developed a failure during its final descent phase utilising photographs sent back from the orbiter. They are pictures covering the 30-foot area of ground where the lander alighted but no sign of 'little green men'!

CROSSMAN HALL (formally HI Village Hall) David O'Connor

Apologies for missing last month, I was away and did not return until the end of the month missing the deadline.

However, little has happened reference the completion of the snagging, the delay is caused by slow progress acquiring a legal easement to cross land to connect our rainwater drain to the main drain. When that is sorted the contractor will arrive on site and set the drain and complete all outstanding works.

We have had a cluster of bookings from a range of institutions during October and our big day was providing facilities for 120+ year 5 little darlings. They were charming, but how Teachers cope with so much noise is a puzzle to me.

They came, on a damp day, did their fieldwork, completed their worksheets and had a picnic lunch in the hall.

Lesson learnt: - Allow for two people and two+ hours to clean-up after they depart!

October has been, on occasions chilly. So with guidance from the internet I managed to set up the two independent heating systems. System one under-floor heating in the main hall, having read the online instructions, the air heat exchange system is managed using a digital pictograms display in the control window. Got it working and it's quite cosy, so far.

The heating control for the anterooms and hot water system uses the same technique of pictograms, but there is a longer and maybe more complicated menu. This area is now warm but the supply of hot/warm water to the hand basins is not yet quite right. I think I require a tutorial from the systems installer.

Our negotiations with the Big Lottery Fund continue reference the installation of the kitchen using our Grant underspend.

As we draw towards November that time of year when the Nation remembers the fallen and wounded of many conflicts. I am reminded that the people of France hold those who fell and were wounded very close. In the area of Normandy I visit regularly there are many British and Allied Servicemen laid to rest in local churchyards. Some cared for by the War Greaves Commission and others looked after by the local community. In my hamlet, La Roque, the local churchyard has a greave dedicated to fighter pilot shot-down during the Normandy invasion. He was recovered from his downed aircraft and interred by locals before the enemy arrived on scene.

Earlier this year, the oldest member of the community, the late farmer and Mayors, wife died. I remember well the story of her first encounter with the advancing relief forces; In the candle lit dairy she was readying for the first milking of the day, the cattle were restless and then a  quiet knock on the door. Alarmed she slowly open the door and saw a dirty mud spattered man carrying a rifle wearing what appeared to her as a skirt and others like him in the farmyard. He was an advance scouting patrol from the Highlanders who had just crossed the River Seine seeking information.

Later, how she laughed at the thought of being saved from the Nazi rear-guard by men in skirts. The Highlanders!

David O'


Before any of the planned works at the Castle can go ahead, the important job of emptying its contents needs to be completed.

Well it's here. By the time you're reading this it'll be November and that'll be another season done. As I write though it is still half term and the island seems busy enough; a decent end to a funny year.

As soon as the castle closes on the 30th October we start the big pack-up. The first lot of volunteers are due in on the morning of the 31st, and once we've divided up into teams we will begin the process of packing the contents ready to be moved out of the building. The volunteer job consists of two distinct roles - packing and documenting. The teams of four or five will consist mainly of packers with one documentation volunteer overseeing the work. It is very important that we record which object goes into which crate and ultimately, which shelf that crate ends up on in the store. Our accreditation as a museum is granted by the Arts Council on the basis that, at a given time, we could locate any object we have in our collection. The packers will be carefully placing objects into crates lined with bubble wrap and surrounding the items with bubble wrap 'sausages' (bubbles on the inside). We won't be wrapping items individually as this would make it more difficult to locate individual pieces in the crates.

A large chunk of the collection is made up of ceramics so obviously a fair amount of bubble wrap is needed. However where metals are concerned - pewter, brass, copper etc - we use acid-free tissue paper to protect items in crates. This is because over time the bubbles on bubble wrap can find themselves slightly stuck to metallic objects - just enough to leave a pattern of circles on the object when the wrap is removed. Inside the crates, 'shelves' can be made of bubble wrap to divide up layers of objects while conservation-grade foam (Plastazote) can be use to make upright dividers or more rigid shelves. Many of our objects won't fit into the crates, such as framed prints and larger ceramics, or at least will fit but won't allow the lids to shut. It such instances we can either use cardboard boxes, or make cardboard covers to protect items while in transit. We can also use Tyvek - a material resistant to liquid but not to vapour, making it breathable - to wrap large objects.

While the volunteers are getting on with the packing, myself and some other staff will be taking down some of the more complex objects we have in the building. The wind indicator panel in the Entrance Hall was designed and painted by Macdonald Gill for Lutyens in 1913 and apart from a couple of conservation jobs over the years, it has barely been off the wall let alone out of the castle. Our joiner Craig is making a 10' by 5' frame to which the panel will be screwed before being covered in Tyvek. Once in store, the panel will be secured to a wall again. The Ship Room has of course a model ship hanging from the ceiling - that also has to go so is leaving in a specially-made crate after being detached from its pulley system The rest of the large furniture is relative easy to dismantle; most of it was effectively 'flat-packed' when it was made. However a couple of Lutyens' own design seem to have been made rather more solidly and must remain in place for the duration of the work under plywood protection.

All being well we should have the building clear by the middle of the month. As the last items are being removed we will probably pass people coming the other way bringing scaffolding poles, Harris fencing, and a huge temporary roof. I think that is when this whole project will finally seem very real and very immediate.

If you would like any more information on what is going on please let me know. Hopefully in the next issue I will be able to introduce you to the people who will actually be doing the works, if they haven't already done so themselves.

All the best

Lindisfarne Castle // @NTLindisfarne // 01289 389903


In what has proved an incredible autumn season for small migrants on the island, the smallest of them all has really stood out.

Goldcrests have been everywhere. I've found them feeding on grass verges in Chare Ends, in the car parks and on lawns and bushes in just about every garden in the village. Elsewhere, the lonnen hedges have been buzzing with them and even the isolated bushes in the dunes have all held little parties, busy gleaning away for tiny insects, spiders and their eggs. Many hundreds, if not thousands, have been present.

With their striking yellow crown stripes, Goldcrests are Europe's smallest birds. They weigh no more than a five pence piece but are capable of long and dangerous migrations across the Baltic and North Sea before they arrive on the island. I shudder to think how many don't make it and go down in the sea or are taken by gulls.

Most of those we see have been shown by ringing recoveries to come from the vast conifer forest areas east of the Baltic and well into Russia. Others arrive from northern Scandinavia. Many will remain to winter in Britain while others will move onwards down into Spain and Portugal.

Old-time naturalists didn't believe that such tiny birds could possible cross the North Sea unaided. They fondly believed that they hitched a ride on the backs of migrating Woodcock which tend to arrive at the same time. Tales abound of sportsmen shooting Woodcock and seeing Goldcrests scramble out from their plumage and fly to safety.

That earned them the old name of the Woodcock's Pilot. It was sheer nonsense, of course, but a nice explanation for their appearance in autumn.  Many people have commented to me about their tameness, often feeding unconcerned just a few feet away, seemingly oblivious to us humans.

In the past I've had Goldcrests perching on my boots and even binoculars. During this latest invasion both Paul and Lesley Douglas had close encounters. Paul had a Goldcrest on his shoulder while their boat was off Emmanuel Head. Back at home, Lesley found one snuggling into the top of her furry boots in the house porch after she'd left the front door open. It gave her a wonderful chance to have a really good look at this tiny bird with its golden Mohican stripe. That stripe, of course, provides their name and also an older title, Golden-crested Wren, although in reality they much more closely related to warblers than wrens.

The mass arrival of Goldcrests was accompanied by many other northern species in the best numbers for years.  These included Redwings, Fieldfares, Brambling, Mealy Redpolls and Siskins as well as many Scandinavian Blackbirds and Song Thrushes.

There were also some real star birds, all wanderers from Siberia and mainly normally wintering in South East Asia. These included a White's Thrush, a big and strikingly mottled black, brown and white relative of our own Blackbirds and Song Thrushes. 

One which spent a day in Robert's willow plantation at the north end of the Straight Lonnen was only the third ever seen in Northumberland. By coincidence, the first was on the island in 1914. If it takes another 102 years for the next to appear I'm afraid we're all going to miss that one too!

This mega-rare thrush takes its name from the Reverend Gilbert White (1720-1793), a country parson at Selborne in Hampshire, who first described the species in 1790. White is much better remembered for his delightful book The Natural History and Antiquities of Selbourne. It was first published in 1789 and has never been out of print since.

Even rarer was a Siberian Accentor, a yellow striped cousin of our humble Dunnock, or Hedge Sparrow to give its older name, which most of us are very familiar with in our gardens. This species hadn't been recorded in Britain until October 10 when one turned up in Shetland, causing great excitement and more than a little panic in the birding world.

Others quickly followed in East Yorkshire, Cleveland and County Durham before Britain's fifth was found on the dunes path between the North Shore and Snipe Point on October 18. There seems to have been a westward movement of these birds this autumn as others have turned up in Sweden and Finland. With every birder in Britain on high alert to their presence no doubt others will be found.

The other outstanding rarity, and perhaps the most beautiful of all, was Pallas's Warbler, tiny yellow striped birds which are always one of the most sought-after species of autumn. A friend once aptly described them as like "flying mint humbugs."

Several have appeared on the island after being absent since 2009. Normally only one or two occur in Northumberland annually but this autumn well over a dozen have been found along the coast making it a record year.

An autumn Goldcrest caught beautifully by regular island birder and photographer Andy Mould. 

Two were at the Snook and other sightings came from the Straight Lonnen, gardens at Chare Ends and the Vicarage. It's always difficult to work out numbers as these small birds wander from one feeding area to another. But it seems that five or six have been present. These delightful visitors are named after a German zoologist, Peter Pallas, who first found them breeding in some of Russia's most remote regions during scientific expeditions in the 18th Century.

A lot of people have been in spoken to me or been in touch through text and e-mail about my new book, The Birds of Holy Island. The publishers and I are delighted to report that it's now selling well, thanks to the island Post Office, the Lindisfarne Centre and the internet.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported the book. I gather some have bought it as a small Christmas present for friends and relatives elsewhere who love the island. Full details are available on the island website and on that of the Lindisfarne Centre


Autumn migration has certainly been hotting up recently and at the end of October we have had several birdwatching and craft events to celebrate Migration Watch. Aimed at children we had a craft event where visitors made Light-bellied brent puppets and migration badges at the Window on Wild Lindisfarne while others were given the opportunity to view some our migratory geese and waders up close at Fenham-le-Moor hide and Budle Bay. They were well attended and thanks goes to The North Northumberland Bird Club for attending the bird watching events.

There has been a great spectacle to show people at our events with large numbers of pink-footed geese are roosting at Goswick and Budle Bay - up to 7,000 have been present over the past couple of weeks. Also, there are around 2,600 light-bellied brent on the Reserve but we can have up to 50% of the world's population. Wigeon numbers are also high with up to 16,000 visible in the middle of October. There was a great write up about bird numbers and migration as part of our Migration Watch events in The Newcastle Journal. The beginning of October saw winds and weather aligning to bring a drop of some other smaller migrants with flocks of goldcrest, fieldfare, stone chats and redwings amongst others darting through the scrub throughout the Reserve but particularly at Chare Ends.

Sheep and cattle moved onto the Reserve on the 12th of October and have been making themselves at home. Both do a great job in removing some of the invasive plants such as Michaelmas daisy. As with most years there are signs up to let visitors know where they are likely to come across livestock and particularly a reminder to keep dogs on leads or close at heel. We've been able to increase the scale of the grazing thanks to additional funding from Peregrinni Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership. Following a summer helping with the Shorebird Project, Alex has returned as a seasonal warden to help during winter - it was great to welcome her back.

Mhairi Maclauchlan
Reserve Warden, Beal Station,
Tel: 01289 381 470

ED: Mhairi's blog and facebook page can be found at and .


We're reaching the end of a very successful season welcoming thousands of visitors and opening our new accessible holiday cottage in the old Coastguard's House. The team at the Priory are looking forward to a well-earned rest over the winter! Just a reminder that the priory will move onto winter opening hours from 1 November and will be open weekends only 10am-4pm over the winter months. We open daily during February half term (18-26 Feb 2017) and then it's back to weekends again until the new season on 1 April.

NEWS FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

12th November - Live Music at Etal Village Hall   - Anna Massey & Mairearad Green

Two of Scotland's most revered multi-instrumentalists, Mairearad Green (accordion and bagpipes) and Anna Massie (guitar, banjo, fiddle) are a truly captivating duo, providing a highly energetic performance with an instantly warm and friendly stage presence.  Having played alongside each other for over ten years, they revel in an intuitive approach to each other's musical ideas and interpretations, and an "almost telepathic communication" on stage (Hi-Arts), where they create "music more than the sum of just two parts" (The Scotsman), effortlessly showcasing the fruits of duo partnership to the highest level. Now based in Glasgow, Mairearad and Anna both grew up in the Scottish Highlands amidst very similar musical backgrounds (most notably, mandolin playing Dads!), and so share an innate understanding of Scottish culture and music. As a duo they have enjoyed many successes, including five stars in The Scotsman and high praise from KT Tunstall, becoming a much-loved live act.

Contact Helen or Steve for tickets and further information.  All 'Etal Live Music' events have a bar. Tickets £12.00 - can be paid by cash or cheque by calling at 22 Etal or Taylor and Green's furniture workshop at the riverside, or by post to Steve Taylor, 22 Etal Village, Cornhill-on-Tweed TD12 4TW.

Doors open 7.30, music starts 8pm

Sunday 27th November 11am - 3.30pm Ford Christmas Market

Over 50 stalls selling crafts, local foods and seasonal gifts, all under cover of a street marquee and inside the beautiful Lady Waterford Hall in Ford Village.  Plus Santa and his horse, kids' carousel, music and a range of refreshments from hog roast to vegan, dairy and gluten free sweet and savoury dishes.  Free parking.  Shuttle bus runs throughout the day from Etal and Heatherslaw.

Santa Specials with Heatherslaw Light Railway  10th, 11th, 17th & 18th December

Enjoy a winter ride on Heatherslaw Light Railway, meet Santa and enjoy seasonal refreshments; all children receive a gift.  PRE-BOOKING ESSENTIAL!  £10.00 per person.  Tel 01890 820244 or visit for more information or to book your tickets.


A Sense Of Place at Berwick Literary Festival

I binged on eight events in one week-end at Berwick's Literary Festival. 'On the Edge' was this year's theme. Berwick is, of course  on the edge of both England and Scotland, and on the edge of land and sea. What the organisers did not realise is how, in one event after another, the importance of place would come to the forefront - and that included Holy Island.

Alistair Moffat, author of 'Scotland: a history from earliest times' revealed this history almost entirely by telling stories about places. Louise Ross, the crime fiction writer whose first novel 'Holy Island' was an Amazon bestseller, locates all her mysteries in Northumberland. She explained that she does not have a pre-determined story - the plots unfold, not only from the nature of the person she portrays, but also from the nature of the place in which the crime takes place.

It was a delight to listen to our old friend Alice Burn as she accompanied the poet Katrina Porteous on the Northumbrian pipes. Katrina's book of poetry 'Two Countries'' threw light on the shifting relationship between landscape and community. By far its longest poem is entitled The Refuge, and thrills us with sights, sounds and insights linked to the island.  Archeologist Professor Richard Hingley bid us experience Hadrian's Wall. As it has been restored over the years, it tells us much about unity in diversity, about the spirit of a place, and of how communities flourish when they feel protected and yet can travel to the next place.

Why is this sense of place so important?  One answer is that if we don't know where we are we won't know where we should go.

This month I become tenant of a residence in Berwick, near the river Tweed. This river, that carries so much wonder, history and gunge of Scotland, flows into and shares it all with England. Then it becomes purified and freed by the healing salt of the vast ocean that goes to the world. We are all linked by the sea.

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

FROM THE VICARAGE Revd Dr Paul Collins

There is a tradition that November is the month of Holy Souls, beginning with All Saints Day on 1st followed by All Souls Day (Commemoration of the all the Faithful Departed) on 2nd and from the twentieth century Armistice Day on 11th and Remembrance Sunday. All Saints Day and All Souls Day sit in the year (in the Northern Hemisphere) when darkness is beginning to last longer than daylight. It is psychological moment to reflect on life and death - to remember those things upon which life depends: light, water and air, and to ask ourselves what we value in our lives, what being alive means for us. Also to reflect on the lives of those whom we love and whose mortal existence is finished.

Some texts used in the liturgy of Holy Souls may help us in our reflections:

De profundis ... 'Out of the depths, have I cried to thee O Lord' These are words from Psalm 130 which is traditionally used at funerals, and at times of prayer for and remembrance of the departed. It resonates with the shock and sorrow and loss which the death of a loved one means to those whose lives are left emptier by their decease. The church's liturgy seeks to help us recognise and express our feelings before God as we are faced with the change in our lives which death means.

Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord; And let light perpetual shine upon them. In this short response is expressed so much of the Christian Tradition's understanding of the value and meaning of each person created by God in his image and likeness. God's promise in Christ is that life has 'eternal' significance: we might say limitless value and significance: and the metaphor of 'light perpetual' resonates with the need for light for our mortal existence: the Light which gives us mortality also promises life transfigured into the likeness of Christ crucified and risen.

In paradisium this is often the concluding text in musical settings of a Requiem Mass - such as we find in the works of Fauré or Duruflé.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere ĉternam habeas requiem.

"May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs receive you at your arrival and lead you to the holy city Jerusalem. May choirs of angels receive you and with Lazarus, once poor, may you have eternal rest."

Here we have a beautiful picture of the communion of saints, and of the biblical metaphor of heaven as the new Jerusalem, into which the departed soul is made welcome. This text suggests how the communion into which we are invited through our baptism and which we enjoy in our lives lived in faith, is but the first stage of a limitless indwelling in God's own life of love and fellowship - as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So we pray for all the faithful departed:

May the heavenly host sustain you
and the company of heaven enfold you.
In communion with all the faithful,
may you dwell this day in peace.

Paul Collins
The Vicarage, Holy Island
Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 2RX
Tel. 01289 389 216


Saturday 12th November: Choral Evensong - sung by Bondington Voices at 5.30pm

Remembrance Sunday (13th November): Service in St Mary's at 10.45am followed by laying of wreaths at the war memorial on the Heugh.

Sunday 27th November: Advent begins
Sunday 4th December: The Parish Eucharist 10.45am - visit of Bishop Christine of Newcastle
Sunday 11th December: Christingle Service at 4pm
Monday 12th December: School Christmas Performance at 5pm
Saturday 17th December: "Journey of the Magi" (see below)
Thursday 22nd December: Service of 9 Lessons and Carols at 5.30pm
Saturday 24th December: Christmas Midnight Eucharist at 11.30pm
Sunday 25th December: 8am Holy Communion (BCP)
10.45am Family Service & Holy Communion

Journey of the Magi

- a Christmas Story for all ages -

Saturday 17th December

at 11.30am

in the Village Hall

Tickets available from the Vicarage
(Tel. 01289 389 216)

£6 per adult // £4 per child
Family Ticket 2 Adults and up to 4 children £18


PAUSE FOR THOUGHT Revd Canon Kate Tristram


Do you believe in Santa Claus? If you say "yes" and are old enough to read this you must do some explaining. You say you really mean "the spirit of Christmas" or something like that, and no-one can then quarrel with you.

Or do you mean an actual person, who lives somewhere up north, has reindeer, and comes down the chimney (if you have a chimney) with presents.  So perhaps you are not more than 5 years old, and if you are lucky you may actually meet Santa in the local supermarket.  People may expect you to enthuse about him.  They may even ask you, "What is Santa going to bring you for Christmas?"  as if you could possibly answer that!

Does it matter that our children are subjected to this total fiction?  Perhaps for many, no.  They just swallow it as a game the adults like to play.  But there are others who can be shattered when they discover the truth.  For basically this is a question of truth.

I remember reading of one little boy who came down to Christmas breakfast furious, because he had just discovered that Santa did not exist.  He refused to eat and slammed out with the words, "Now I'm going to get to the bottom of that Jesus thing as well." His parents had deceived him once.  What else must he now disbelieve?

My own opinion is that we should never tell children, as a matter of truth, something we do not ourselves believe.

What do you think?