• A bit from me...
  • The next Vicar of Holy Island
  • Reminder: NO Bonfires and Fireworks
  • Reader's Letter
  • Crossman Hall
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • Myth of the geese which hatched from shellfish!
  • Natural England - A Year in the Life of a Reserve Manager
  • Natural England - Monthly Update
  • Northumberland Coast AONB
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • Silent Spring?
  • From the Community of Aidan and Hilda
  • St Mary's notices
"We will remember them"
A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

Dear Reader,

Welcome to our November edition of our newsletter and for the benefit of new readers which uses the Ezine to help friends of the island to 'Stay-In-Touch'.

Firstly, thank you to Northumberland County Council. On 24th October a small digger appeared on the south side of the causeway re-starting the trench that was hoped would enable debris to clear more efficiently from the road surface with ebbing tides. Residents possibly recall the meeting in the old village hall almost 20 years ago which ignored local advice and resulted in a 200k feasibility study and the ensuing 2M spent in a marginal causeway height increase. This new approach should represent a significant saving and with regular maintenance could become an economic, safer, solution for years to come. I crossed two days later with no sign of a trench. There was marked evidence of their work with huge sand ruts along the south side reducing cars and coaches to walking pace and those with two-wheels to ride in the opposite lane. NCC please come and finish the job...

However, regardless of any improvements that might eventually be made, when the tide opens Holy Island Causeway and Coast Road can still be left littered with all manner of flotsam. During poor weather conditions it can become a perilous place. Puddles might be disguising a new or untreated pothole. Please be vigilant and courteous to other road users.

As I write, the wind continues on but now from a much colder compass point. Staggered, school half-terms will be responsible for our well-filled car parks. And the increasing visibility of scarves, gloves and bobble-hats herald that winter is almost on top of us.

As days shorten and nights close in we endeavour to keep our free community attractions open when daylight and weather permits and the causeway is open. (Window on Lindisfarne, Lifeboat House, Lookout on Lindisfarne). For similar reasons the patterns of church services are changing. Hopefully, in next month's newsletter we shall have a schedule of our special services in December and over the Christmas period.

We are delighted that our period of Interregnum is nearing an end. The provisional date for the Institution of our new vicar, Reverend Canon Dr Sarah Hills, is Sunday 27th.

'The Great War': In our annual Remembrance Service in St Mary's Church on Sunday 11 November and the laying of wreaths on the Heugh, we commemorate the centenary of the first world war. During just one battle alone (the Somme) over a million soldiers from the British, German and French armies were wounded or killed. WW1 was one of the deadliest conflicts in history - almost 7 million civilians and 10 million military personnel died - around 37 million civilian and military casualties. Many of us have personal memories of family members involved in that 'war-to-end-all-wars', the second world wars and the horrific loss of loved ones in the countless battles that followed. Like most parishes, our remembrance service will focus on those who left their island homes and families to serve our nation during those horrendous times. As we pray these personal memories will come flooding back. "We will remember them".

Thank you to subscriber, Kathleen, for getting in touch and to new author, Pat Cooper and all our writers for enabling us to yet again keep our island in your hearts. We do hope you enjoy our November newsletter and look forward to getting in touch again in December.

Geoff Porter
Editor (SitEzine)

The community awaits our new 'Vicar of Holy Island'
  • The annual Remembrance Service will be held in St Mary's Church at 10.45am on Sunday 11 November followed by laying of wreaths on the Heugh. This year commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice in 1918.

  • The provisional date for the Institution of our new vicar, Reverend Canon Dr Sarah Hills, is Sunday 27th January at 2.00pm.

  • We would also like to give a belated welcome to our new teacher, Heather Stiansen, and her husband Carl.

The Parochial Church Council
St Mary's - Holy Island



We are again reminding potential visitors who may have been used to visiting the island to join with us in our traditional 'Bonfire Night' celebrations that these will not be taking place this year.


Dear Editor,

Thankyou for the article about Private James Patterson in your last news letter James was my grandmother's cousin and my uncle Jim Curry born in 1921 was named after him.

My grandma's name was Isabella Curry nee Patterson. Her father's name was Richardson (Tish) Patterson he was born on Holy Island about 1874 and was James' uncle My grandma lived in Newcastle but paid many visits to Holy Island during her life often staying there for long periods with her relatives the Patterson family and was well known to many Islanders at that time as Bella Tish.

Many thanks again I hope to visit the Island as soon as I can and see the memorial.

Kathleen Keys


As this year's archaeological exploration of an area in the Sanctuary Close, just east of the current Priory boundary, drew to a close. The Festival of Archaeology got underway in the Hall. On Saturday and Sunday 22 & 23 September, the great and good gathered to pay tribute to the late Professor Mick Aston, who lead and helped, make Time Team the successful TV programme it became. It could be said "he dragged archaeology out of the dark ages and made the programme a right riveting not to miss series".

On both days ticket holders began queuing just after 07:30; lectures began at 09:00 and ran through until late afternoon. After a break on Saturday evening people collected in the 'blow-up' Pub for a drink before enjoying the Monsters Ceilidh Band in the hall. All in all the weekend was a great success and a fine tribute to Prof Mick.

Festival proceedings can be found on DigVentures, DigNation website.

It is pleasing to note that this event was live streamed across the world using the hall Wi-Fi and viewed by 2,000+.

Senior Managers of Northern Diocesan Group

Early in October the hall provided a venue for a prestigious an assemblage of Northern Bishops who gathered on the Island to review and plan well away from the helter-skelter of Church activities. The meeting was successful and the tranquillity of the Island enjoyed and not least they were delighted with the venue.

Yoga Class

This month saw the first of a series of Yoga Classes, two sessions were held and enjoyed. More will be arranged in December, beginning on 3rd December, time to be announced. The classes have been arranged following requests from many of those who attended during October and please don't forget the classes are not just for Ladies.

Bye for now.

David O'


With only a couple of weeks of the season left attention will soon turn to something we haven't really had to think about for a while; routine maintenance. When all the major works were going on, from a maintenance point of view we were wiping the slate clean; a new maintenance schedule has been prepared and this is where that begins to get used.

So that means I get to clean out drains again (which of course I have missed) making sure that our resident pigeons and fulmars don't cause any blockages. We have had our five-yearly exterior painting programme carried out which will lift things a little but some internal areas will have to wait until the winter, so I'll need my brushes and white spirit at some point too. There are also couple of leftovers from the major works that have been put back to the winter. On the Lower Battery we will be carrying out stabilisation work to the underground tanks - an important source of firefighting water - and also clearing out the old Butler's Pantry off the Kitchen to do some environmental surveying. The walls in this room and the doorway into it from the Kitchen have not responded well to the new plastering and so there is clearly something wrong which we need to sort out.

Also on the agenda is planning for next year and while we won't be bringing the contents back due to issues such as that mentioned above, we are preparing a new visitor experience to tell the Castle's stories in an engaging and imaginative way. Some of you might have come up to the open evening we held at the end of August and contributed to a couple of really interesting workshops. On the back of that we are hoping to explore further some of the fascinating stories that were shared via an oral history project. This may involve direct recording by a filmographer but at this stage we are still working things out. It all looks really exciting though.

Soon after we close of course we will approach the centenary of the Armistice in November 1918. I know there are some colleagues of mine involved in the Pages of the Sea project on the beach at Seahouses, which if you haven't heard about is well worth checking out. The film director Danny Boyle is in charge and on each participating beach around the country a portrait will be created in the sand and as the tide comes in the image will slowly disappear. It did put me in mind of any links we have here at the Castle and the main one from the Great War would be that of Billy Congreve VC, beloved of Hudson and one of the many who fell at the Somme, and there is of course the less-direct link of Lutyens being so heavily involved with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (notably here on the Island), but as 1918 is very much on the agenda, I thought I'd mention the little-known visit of Siegfried Sassoon to the Castle in September of that year. Sassoon was wounded in France in July 1918 and discharged from the army. He was invited by Hudson and William Heinemann, Sassoon's publisher, to Lindisfarne. The pair planned to meet Sassoon in the August of that year, but he did not arrive until September by which time the two men had gone. The only person left in the Castle was Guilhermina Suggia, the noted cellist and regular visitor to the island.

'After driving across the wet sands to the island at low tide, we spent an afternoon with the only occupant of the Castle. This was none other than Madame Suggia, who enchanted us by her immense vitality and charm. It needs no saying that Suggia on the concert platform has been the loveliest and most romantic of modern virtuosos, in addition to being one of the most magnificent executants. How then can one find words to describe her playing a suite by Bach in the reverberant chamber of a lonely and historic castle - her 'cello's eloquence accompanied only by the beat and wash of waves breaking beneath the windows? This is an experience which I will always remember with gratitude. It seemed as though I had arrived at the end of a pilgrimage, to find peace and absolution in an hour of incomparable music. For it was the first time I felt completely remote and absolved from the deadly constraints of war.'

It is nice to think the place and the music had such an effect on Sassoon, and perhaps the passing of a century will bring a similar feeling of peace and absolution across the country on Armistice Day this year.

Best wishes

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


It has been a wonderful autumn for Arctic geese moving to wintering areas in Britain and here on the island we have certainly enjoyed their passage.

Many of them were able to take advantage of tail-winds to cross the North Atlantic from Greenland and Iceland.  Others arrived, also wind-assisted, from the Arctic Ocean from breeding grounds on the Norwegian island group of Svalbard, formerly Spitzbergen, and from the Russia archipelago of Novaya Zemlya.

A month ago I wrote about the arrival of our own pale-bellied Brent Geese, also from Svalbard, and since then numbers have really built up on the reserve, their only regular wintering area in Britain.

The sight and sound of other passing geese is always a feature of this stage of the year. Large numbers of Pink-footed and Barnacle geese have passed over the island, both species usually first noticeable by their far-carrying calls.

On many occasions I heard the distinctive "wink, wink" calls of Pink-feet and had to search hard and long for them against the almost dazzling blue skies which the winds cleared to perfection. Eventually I managed to see skein after skein passing over at very high altitude, tiny chevrons against the blue. Grey geese against a blue background don't make for easy watching.

The Barnacle Geese were much easier to find, coming through in typical low ragged flocks with their strange yapping calls like a pack of small excited dogs.

Some of the Pink-feet will remain to winter in the area, roosting out on the safety of the sandbars of the reserve and commuting out at dawn to graze in pastures around the Wooler area. Their return in the dying embers of winter sunsets can be spectacular. Back in November 2014 an estimated 14,700 flew in to roost, the largest concentration of these geese so far recorded in Northumberland. 

Many others which flew through will have continued onwards to East Anglia, the main wintering area, attracted by the highly nutritious sugar beet stubbles.

- A massed flock of Barnacle geese grazing on a winter pasture.
The following close-up shows the striking white, grey and black plumage of these smart winter visitors.
Photo: Mike S Hodgson

Most of the Barnacle Geese also quickly moved through the area en route to their principal winter area around Solway. Even as migration hit its peak over the island more than 7,000 had already arrived at one of their main haunts, the Caelaverock marshes, and a figure that swelled daily with further influxes.

The numbers passing over the island vary from year to year, according to wind and weather. Back in 2008, after flocks had passed overhead right through the day, 25,000 roosted on Fenham Flats and in Budle Bay, by far the biggest concentration ever recorded in the county. They all moved off next morning and a few hours later created a spectacular mass arrival on the Solway.

However, in recent years some have remained in our area using a new wintering area which has developed around Budle Bay. More than 1,000 were present last winter. It will be fascinating to see if that wintering population continues to grow.

Both species are rather misnamed. The foot colour of the Pink-feet is just about their least noticeable feature, particularly while feeding as they habitually do on meadows where their feet are not visible anyway. Their compact form, distinctive dark heads and small bills are much better and more visible clues to their identity.

I always think that Barnacle Geese are the most beautiful of our wintering wildfowl in their smart plumage of white, black and silvery grey. They got their name because of an old belief, ridiculous as it sounds to us today, that they hatched from marine crustaceans clinging to the bottoms of wooden boats and to floating timber.

The story apparently originated in writings by a 12th Century Welsh chronicler and cleric, Giraldus Cambrensis, who claimed to have seen their strange birth during a visit to Ireland. He wrote of them emerging from barnacles on floating tree trunks.

He said they were produced from fir timber brought ashore by waves and were at first like gum. Afterwards they hung down by their beaks as if they were seaweed attached to the timber. They then developed a strong coat of feathers and either fell into the water or flew freely away.

"I have frequently seen with my own eyes more than a thousand of these small birds hanging down on the seashore from one piece of timber," he wrote in 1186.

Other naturalists of the medieval era backed him up, also claiming to have witnessed this incredible metamorphosis. So the myth persisted for more than half a millennia.

It only faded away when their Arctic breeding grounds were discovered in the late 19th Century. It was finally established, to no great surprise to the modern mind that these attractive geese hatched from eggs, just like all other birds. But the name has stuck and is a reminder of the old myth.

In some areas, particularly in Ireland, it seems that folk were reluctant to abandon the old belief. Not because they still believed it to be true but simply for practical reasons. After all, if Barnacle geese hatched from crustaceans they must surely be fish rather than fowl. It was a handy way of getting over the prohibition of eating meat during Lent. Canny folk, those Irish! .


A Year in the Life of a Reserve Manager

October is my favourite colour - Northumberland looks crisp and fresh in hues of orange, yellow and brown. This was a wondrous time of year to begin working on Lindisfarne. The arrival of the geese, decorating the sky like skeins of wool strewn out in formation - team work to make sure everyone makes it safely. Stronger birds flying at the apex, alternating to share the load. Front flyers provide uplift and reduce drag and resistance to make easier the way for juveniles, older and weaker members of the flock that follow in their wake. A joyous sound fills the air - calls of encouragement from birds at the rear to say 'we're still here, keep up the good pace'! It would be fair to say the geese are the highlight of the year for me. We host outreach events that focus on migratory birds, watching from afar so not to disturb them.

Autumn - a busy time - managing the land through cutting, raking, pruning and grazing, removing non-native invasive species. We cleaned beaches filled with debris deposited by the seas that increase in power as they lap the land - fuelled by wild winds of autumn. Small mammals were surveyed to monitor abundance, a task repeated every spring and autumn. Sea-grasses collected and evaluated for calorific value and the birds counted as they are all year around.

Last winter was harsh but nevertheless, livestock were tended, the reserve was patrolled, fences and hides up-kept, reserve signage changed to reflect seasonal changes. Vehicles, machinery and tools were maintained and plans made for the coming year - by this time I had come to learn that reserve management is a highly diverse role!

Spring eventually arrived after several false starts. The overwintering fowl dispersed back across the globe to breeding grounds. Sights and sounds anew filled the skies above the reserve. All five UK tern species visit here, three of which took their chances nesting on site. Skylarks began to sing in mellifluous cadences above the dunes - a sound that promises summer is on its way.

Summer saw human migration on mass as tens of thousands of visitors arrived on the reserve - a pressure that can be detrimental to the habitats and other species that reside here. This was a time to engage with the public - we aimed to enthuse them with fun activities to help them understand what can be done to support species that call Lindisfarne home. The dunes now alive with colour as orchids and butterflies abound. We monitored and surveyed them to make sure their abundance is consistent year on year. 

October is my favourite colour- we have come full circle. I watch the birds arrive on cue- smiling from the inside out at the joy their arrival brings - they made it again across thousands of miles, against elements and obstacles. I desperately try to comprehend what they have endured to reach these essential feeding grounds; the instinct to support and protect them is re-sparked as once more they will be the focus of autumn and winter wardening. This October the time has arrived for my own migration as I leave the reserve for pastures new...

Thank you for reading our articles over the last 12 months.

Thank you to everyone that supports the work of the NNR - particularly our small but mighty group of dedicated volunteers who regularly brave all weathers to ensure the reserve is protected.

I bid you all- 'fair thee well'

Annie x
(Annie Ivison - previously Reserve Manager)


Monthly Update

There's a definite chill in the air in the mornings these days, and Reserve staff are contemplating once again our woolly hats as we set to work on autumn tasks. It is a time of mending fences, brushcutting, beach cleans... and crossing our fingers that the current sunny spell holds long enough for us to truly make the most of it.

We are also in for a spot of cow and shepherding, as we enlist four-legged colleagues to assist with our work. A herd of thirty beef cattle are grazing the dunes and seem to be enjoying their stint on Holy Island - footprints on the sand are testament to a seaside stroll, and we've heard that one or two have been enjoying a North Sea paddle. They are a placid group of ladies but we do urge caution with all livestock, and certainly dogs must be kept on leads to avoid frightening the cows. We do a daily stock check, which sometimes feels a little like a game of hide and seek - a chestnut rump disappearing over a dune, a calm-eyed, cud-chewing face offering no clues as to where the remaining five cows have hidden themselves. But eventually, they are counted - thirty-strong - and we walk back through the dunes, collecting any litter we find along the way and stopping at points to enjoy the spectacle of short eared owls hunting.

Light-bellied Brent JJD

Twenty-two sheep are intensively grazing the Snook, a spot where the non-native invasive species Michaelmas Daisy is attempting to gain a foothold. The fencing is electrified, so please take care. We move the sheep regularly onto fresh areas and are also engaged in the task of removing their droppings - thus far with dustpan and brush, though we will also be trialling a vacuum. The glamour of nature conservation!

Cutting and grazing keep the dunes from developing monocultures, where one plant takes over, and open up the sward for other species to flourish. The removal both of rakings and of droppings keep the area nutrient-poor - an ideal environment for wildflowers, such as the eleven species of orchid that flower here in spring and summer.

Now is also the time when geese and waders arrive en masse - 50,000 migratory birds overwinter on the Reserve. Pink-footed geese overhead in their noisy, ragged skeins, glimmering flocks of Golden Plover on the sand flats, Bar-tailed Godwit feeding by the side of the causeway... the visitors to Lindisfarne make for some incredible sights and sounds.

After their long journeys, birds are very vulnerable to disturbance - they need places of refuge where they can feed undisturbed by people, dogs, drones or anything which might cause them to take flight. Each time they fly they expend some of their energy budget and with no time to eat between flights, they may starve to death.

Our peak counts to date include 3500 light-bellied Brent geese, 5000 pink-footed geese and 3500 barnacle geese, with an estimated 2500 of the latter still on site. Early morning is the best time to see these amazing birds in large numbers. They will spend their winter here feeding and resting before their long migrations back to the Arctic.

Ceris Aston
Apprentice, Lindisfarne & Newham NNRs
Natural England
Beal Station
01289 381470
Note: The live-stock are checked daily but if you spot a problem you can contact the Reserve office: or Tel. 01289381470.


A Sparkling Close to Northumberland Coast AONB
Diamond Celebrations!

The Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership hosted a Celebration Concert at Ellingham Hall last Thursday to bring to a close a year of events to mark their diamond anniversary. It has been described as a "powerful essence of the Northumberland coast's talents, beauty, wildness and power to heal and inspire folk who live there and visit".

The night featured an eclectic mix of music and song, bringing together different generations who all have a love of the Northumberland Coast. The evening was also a chance to hear the poems and prose pieces from the Written Word Competition winners, which the Partnership ran throughout the summer.

The host for the evening was Tom Cadwallender, who worked for the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership before his retirement seven years ago. His knowledge of the coast and his natural ability to put the audience at ease made him an obvious choice for the role. He ably guided the performers and audience through the night.

Some of the music had been especially written for the AONB's diamond anniversary. Andrew and Margaret Watchorn, who perform as Pipes and Fiddle, debuted the two pieces: the first was a slow waltz called Longstone (a nod to Grace Darling on the 150th anniversary of her daring rescue) whilst the other was a more lively jig named Sanderling, after the birds that dance along the shoreline.

The Duchess Community High School in Alnwick played a big part in the celebrations. A quartet made up of Bethany Kirkley, Palesa Thompson, Lucas Thornbury and Toby Cooke sang and played beautifully, with a highlight being a modern twist on Byker Hill, a well-known Northumbrian folk tune. The Creative Writing Group from the school also performed a series of film poems - poetry spoken alongside screened animation and pictures. This was a very effective way of presenting their work and something the group are keen to do more of as they grow in confidence.

Freelance poet and Beadnell resident, Katrina Porteous, read several of her poems. Much of her work over the last three decades has drawn on the detailed and loving celebration of the landscape, nature and culture of the AONB. Katrina writes her poems with the intention of them being heard out loud and the broad Northumbrian accent with which she read them left the audience amazed by her linguistic ability.

The prize-giving for the Written Word Competition Winners was a highlight of the evening. The winners and runners-up of the three age categories were asked if they would like to perform their entries; they all stepped up to the mark with remarkable courage and gave beautiful renditions of their poems and stories. The theme of the competition was to reflect on and write about the Northumberland Coast, with people and places encouraged.

The competition had a tremendous response, with a total of 147 entries received. T hree renowned authors and poets judged the competition: Dan Smith is an award winning, Newcastle-based author of adventure stories for younger readers, and thrillers for adults; Dr Tony Williams is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Northumbria University, who writes poetry and prose fiction and Richie McCaffery is an award winning poet, with a PhD in Scottish Literature from Glasgow University, who is originally from Warkworth.

Tony Williams awarded the prizes, giving the judges comments and insights on each one. All of the winning entries can be found on the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership website/blog:

Runner up: 7-11 years category - Alex Lienard
Winner: 7-11 years category: Scarlett Hodgson
Runner up: 12-16 years category - Antonia Johnson
Winner: 12-16 years category - Lily Tibbitts
Runner up: Adults category - Julie Evans
Winner: Adults category - Ali Millar

Catherine Gray, Funding and Communications Officer for the AONB, who has been responsible for organising the 60th anniversary celebrations, said: " We wanted to give people a chance to share their energy and enthusiasm for the area throughout the year. We've talked alot about the importance of preserving the AONB in years to come, so involving the younger generation in our celebrations seemed an obvious thing to do".

Cllr Jeff Watson, Chair of the AONB Partnership, said: "For such a small team, the AONB staff achieve a great deal. We've had a marvellous evening of entertainment which has followed on for an inspiring Forum this afternoon. Here's to the next 60 years!"

Catherine Gray
01670 622644

NEWS FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

11th November: Battle's Over - A Nation's Tribute and WWI Beacons of Light

Part in the national chain of beacons being lit on the evening of 11th November as part of a historic tribute to the many millions who were killed or came home dreadfully wounded during World War I, this event is a joint commemorative event between the North Northumberland branch of the Royal British Legion and Ford & Etal Estates, and one of a number of events that the Royal British Legion is involved with across the area on 11th November.

Visitors are invited to meet from 6.30pm onwards with the beacon being lit at exactly 7pm, following a reading.  Hot soup, tea and coffee will be available. Donations welcome to the Royal British Legion North Northumberland.

The beacon will be located near Watchlaw Farm, one mile north-east of Ford. It will be signposted from the B6353; Grid Reference for the event is NT958 392.

17th November: Live Music, Etal Village Hall -  Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts

Contemporary folk/acoustic duo Gilmore & Roberts combine award-winning song writing with astounding musicianship and their trademark harmonies to create a powerful wall of sound. Nominated three times at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Katriona Gilmore (fiddle, mandolin) and Jamie Roberts (guitar) met while studying at Leeds College of Music and released their debut album in 2008.

  • Tickets 12 each.  Please pre-book to avoid disappointment.
  • Doors open 7.30. music begins 8.00p.m.
  • Bar on site

25th November: Ford Christmas Market, 11am-3.30pm

Over 50 stalls selling gifts, crafts, and local food.  Santa and his Donkeys arrive at 12 noon.  Refreshments available.


It's time for a wake up call before its too late.  In the fifties Rachel Carson wrote her book 'The Silent Spring'. This was the time that DDT and Aldrin were being so widely used that the effects on wild life were quickly seen by the rapid decline of raptors.  Pressure was put on governments and these poisons were largely banned. At that time I lived on a fruit farm in Hampshire and my father saw the light and despite all the publicity put out by the purveyors of sprays, decided enough was enough and stopped crop spraying.

Where are we now in 2018? Birds are in a free fall  decline especially the insect eating migrants, wild flowers are seen if you are lucky on unsprayed road verges.  Insects have decline by 95% since the 1940's. In the 1960's, we purchased fly deflectors for attaching onto the bonnets of our cars and despite this fly squash had to be washed off windscreens after every journey!  When was the last time you had to do that?

Why have insects and flowers suffered such a decline? Global warming may have had an effect but the main reason must be the widespread use of both insecticides and herbicides to keep the monoculture of growing the same crop on the fields year after year.  Farmers currently apply 16,063,000 Kg of the stuff on their crops in the UK (which is why we have such green fields) and in addition the general public use Roundup indiscriminately as though it was a miracle cure for everything in their gardens!  In 2016 according to the Pesticide Usage Survey from HMG National Statistics Dept farmers have applied 56 Herbicides, 70 fungicides, 13 insecticides and  growth regulators. It is not surprising that we have so few insects, bees, wild flowers and birds around nowadays.  Swifts have virtually crashed out of existence - when did you last hear the screams of these birds dashing through the skies?   We are getting to the stage where we have to travel miles to see and marvel at the insects and bees in nature reserves!

All is not lost though, there are organic farms around which successfully make a living by using  biodiversity of crops and using nature to assist in both insect and weed control.  Jody Scheckter (who was formula 1 world champion) has a 2,500 acre farm at Laverstoke in Hampshire which is totally organic rearing buffalo for mozzarella cheese, barley for both beer and livestock feed, organic compost, etc etc.

What can we do to redress this imbalance in nature?  We can make a start by making your town or village and garden spray free such that we lock away all those noxious chemicals so they are not used around our roads or verges or in our gardens. Its time today to write to your Council asking them to support this suggestion and for it to be put into operation.

But I hear you say " it says on the container that they are harmless to humans and livestock"!  Don't you believe it - that's just the manufacturers way of selling their products!  Now  Monsanto and Bayer are joining forces to form one of the biggest companies in the world controlling not only the chemicals but also the seeds including GM.  When it goes ahead they will have influence on not only farmers but on whole countries around the world.  This makes for absolute power over not just farmers but nations! That cannot be right can it?

It's up to us at ground roots to say "enough is enough!".


The theme of the Annual Scottish Pilgrimage Gathering 2018 was 'Celebrating the historic ties between St. Andrews, Lindisfarne and Durham'.

It was held at Black Adder Church, North Berwick, following a walk along the first stretch of the Forth to Farne 72 miles Way.

A local historian highlighted features familiar to ancient pilgrims. The Eco-Congregation Scotland officer described how churches can link the environment to their faith and practice. Part of the Way includes that of the naturalist John Muir Way. There is also an eco-congregation England movement.

I spoke about Resources for the Way, and explained things that pilgrims do on Holy Island.  Before that, I spoke of 'Walking in the Steps of the Saints' en route.  So we learned about the hermit Baldred on Bass Island, Saint Ebbe at Abbe'sHead, Saint Cuthbert stationed at Dunbar on military duty (during this time he witnessed Aidan's glory trail to heaven) and Saint Boisil's visits to the mouth of the Tweed at Berwick.

Bass Rock

As pilgrimage increases the Pilgrim Organisations hope to increase resources on the routes and in nearby churches.  A booklet produced for those who walk the Forth to Farne Way includes this prayer by Rev Gabrielle Ayerst, who was recently the locum priest in the Vicarage for a week:

Don't look back along the track
The blasts of wind in your face
But embrace the steps before you
Well travelled by other pilgrims on the way
The steps of saints as they travel
To the Holy Island of Lindisfarne
The centre of spiritual fire and place of love and beauty.

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 (Monday - Saturday)
   8 am Morning Prayer Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
   8 am Eucharist Wednesday and Friday
   5.30 pm Evening Prayer every day

please check notice board in church porch in the event of a seasonal revision



"Light up a Life"
In Belford and Berwick

meet our hospice team