|A BIT FROM ME
Welcome to our June newsletter.
Those visiting us during
May will have noticed our near-full car park as witness to the wonderful island
weather this month. The record visitor numbers seem to have been
accompanied by a high number of coastguard callouts to vehicle strandings:
The usual experience of a 'stranding' seems
to result from a driver becoming aware that a quietness has descended
upon the island caused by cessation of causeway traffic. A
sudden decision to make a dash for the mainland follows. Perhaps they were not conscious that the North
Sea had been gradually trickling across the sand and covering the now-deserted causeway
getting deeper as they drive further along it. At some point
sea water washes into their exhaust pipe and the engine stops....
The new experience seems to be
emerging where the driver decides to park their vehicle in
one of the causeway's turning circles then wander back to have a
look around the island. However, far from being parking conveniences, these circles are provided
as a safety measure enabling vehicles to quickly turn and go
back - as the North Sea continues to flood over the road.
Unless you have a Holy Island tide table and
local weather knowledge (!) the council causeway crossing times
remain the best way of
discovering when you can safely across between the island and mainland.
Please note that are no such predictions should you
decide to hike across by following the poles along 'Pilgrims Way!
This is a very remote Northumberland - if you see someone who
appears to be in difficulty please phone the UK emergency number: 999 .
Church-of-England - 25th Anniversary: Possibly
one of the most significant events to take place since Henry VIII -
1994 was the year in which the Church of England first ordained
women priests. In this diocese of Newcastle, our own Rev Canon Kate
Tristram was amongst that first group. Many have followed in their
ground-breaking footsteps. Maybe you were on the island on May
8th and perhaps even attended a service of thanksgiving in
St.Mary's arranged by Sarah with Sam providing such an edifying
I was delighted to attend and support a dear friend who played a key
part in my life on Lindisfarne.
Thank you all who wrote after we published news
of the loss
of Gary some of which I include below.
Sadly, we have not received an input from Ray
this month but
thank you so much to our regular contributors.
We hope you enjoy our newsletter and look forward to getting in
touch in July.
Stop Press: Ascension Day service in St Mary's - I've never seen
our Chancel so packed. Brilliant!
|FROM THE ISLAND WEBSITE - TRIBUTES TO GARY
Sorry to hear the very sad news about Gary, he was a real Holy
Island legend, and will be sadly missed. My family and I always
looked forward to seeing Gary each year on holiday, on the Island,
it's going to be very strange without him.
Gary was one of the good people of this world, it was an honour
to call him my friend, and we are really going to miss him.
Rest in Peace Gary
Graeme L and Family
We were so sorry to hear about Gary passing away on Maundy
Thursday. We had got to know him after our numerous
visits to Holy Island and were so glad that when we were there for a
very short period last September we were able to talk to him and ask
him how he was etc.
We always remember Maureen telling us what a helpful, kind person
he was and isn't that the greatest accolade of all. I am sure
he will be greatly missed by all the islanders and of course the
many people who got to know him in his shop.
lots of love
Sandy and Iain
Thank you so much for letting us know the sad news about Gary. We
have been visiting the island since 2003 and the first thing we did
when we arrived was to pop in and say "hi "to Gary.
He was a very special man, always so welcoming and friendly. He
will be missed by many people.
Please - if you are able send my love to his family.
Really sad news about Gary. Having led school parties for
many years to the island we always found a welcome at the Island
Store and were made to feel valued. Many a time he would drop
the odd penny off the price for the children if they were a little
We always told the children this was the best shop on the
I would always pop in on my own visits while completing my risk
assessments and would often find a friendly welcome. For me he
was always an important part of the Island and will be very sadly
missed by his family, friends and visitors.
Having been a visitor to Holy Island by small boat from the Forth
for many years It was with great sadness that I learned of the death
of Gary, Island Store. The warmth of his welcome made one feel
special and a visit to the store a pleasure. I remember him
now whenever I eat Northumberland sausages. I didn't know he
was a church organist but one sensed there was more to the man that
one didn't know.
Paul Shave - yacht Blue Spindrift
Thank you so much for continuing to produce the excellent
newsletter which I read out to my husband and daughter each time it
arrives. It's a wonderful connection for us to the
Island that we love dearly. We've stayed on the island for 7-9
days each year for the last 11 years over the October half term - a
holiday that we look forward to all year. We were all deeply
saddened to hear of Gary's passing - he has been a constant, and
joyous, part of our time on the island for all of those years.
I am so grateful that you shared the news via the newsletter -
recognising as you do the importance of privacy for residents.
Gary was such a lovely man and will miss him deeply. We all
shed a few tears when we read the newsletter this time and our visit
this October just won't be the same.
We would be grateful to know if a collection fund was/is being
set up connected with his funeral or in his memory and would be
grateful if you could pass on any details of this. I am sure
other newsletter readers would welcome this information too.
With all best wishes
|HOLY ISLAND CofE FIRST SCHOOL
|Easter Display in St Mary's Parish Church|
from Holy Island & Lowick CofE 1st Schools
There was great excitement on the school
field this month when Scarlett-Beau and Lily-Ella discovered our new
outdoor mud kitchen! Apart from being lots
of fun, playing and
working with mud and sand invites problem solving, curiosity, exploration
(getting messy!) and experimentation in an open-ended way. We will be
developing our outdoor areas even more in the near future. We plan
to have a water wall and are collecting pots, pans,
big spoons and other items to make a music wall along
the fence near the school shed. Learning outdoors is a
great way to introduce mathematical and scientific learning within imaginative
Our sweet peas are continuing to grow well
and are climbing proudly up the trellises in the planters outside
school. We have added some sunflowers and are hoping for strong,
tall plants as we track their height in centimetres each week. We
have also added more bee and butterfly friendly plants including
some vibrant, red Achillea and some
soft, fluffy Lamb's Ears
to the small meadow area at the side of the
field. We were visited by gardener, Carol McLeod, at Lowick and
she showed us how to make seed bombs in the style of
Gertrude Jekyll - Carol was gardener at the world-famous Gertrude
Jekyll garden on Holy Island. The children mixed wildflower seeds with
clay and compost and enjoyed 'bombing' areas of the garden
to encourage wildflowers, especially ones which insects and wildlife will
Lowick and Holy Island schools visited the
Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh this month. It linked in very
well with our previous and ongoing learning about plants. We were
given a tour of
the huge glasshouses and were able to see lots of
the plants we have talked about in school. The children found
out that plants are used for much more than just eating. They
were fascinated to learn that rope, medicine, musical instruments, skin
lotion and also scaffolding (bamboo) are all made from plants. The
weather on the day was lovely and we enjoyed a
sunny picnic lunch together on the lawn in the beautiful
for your diary: The
PTA for Lowick and Holy Island First Schools would like
to invite you to a Family Fun Day on Saturday 6
July, 10am - 2pm at Lowick C of E First School. It
promises to be a very exciting day with lots to
do, see and buy for all the family. We are looking
for donations for our grand raffle and tombola stalls, so
please do get in touch if you have something to
Looking forward to next half term, we are
planning two visits during our upcoming castles topic; Norham and
Lindisfarne Castles will give us very different examples of
fortified buildings to explore. We are taking part in the William
Turner Art event in
Norham in June and
some of our children will have their own landscapes exhibited
in the village. We have been delighted to make links with
Nick Lewis at Lindisfarne Castle and have arranged to visit with Scarlett-Beau
and Lily-Ella in June, then again with the whole school
during our last week in July. The school will be joining
the National Trust which means we can enjoy further visits
to Lindisfarne and other properties in the area in the
We are having an all-day
sports event here on the island on Thursday 20th June where we
will have time for cricket in the morning followed by
lunch on the school field with families and then our traditional
-Sports Day' event will take place in the afternoon. I
have a feeling we are going to have a great
Holy Island Church of England First School
|THE CROSSMAN HALL
It's been a funny old month with several day
long let's ending with a successful Coffee Morning held on behalf
of our Parish Church, St Mary's.
the Ladies of the village provided home prepared scones, cakes, chutney
and jams. As well as manning the stalls selling the edibles,
the bric-a-brac, tombola and raffle tickets.
Thank you to all
who provided and worked to tables, as well as those who
came and bought food and goods.
I never thought I'd say thank you to the
Politicians, but I take my hat off to them. They required the Hall
as a venue for two elections this month and the fee's for those
services now sits comfortably in the Hall bank
account. What next, rumour has it that there may be a
General Election later this year, if so, our funds will again
benefit from providing a Polling Station.
Sunday 29 September 2019 - James Douglas is running in aid
of Cancer Research and seeks sponsorship.
seeking sponsorship for Cancer Research and all donations will help fund
active research that will continue the battle against this disease that
has touched so many of us.
James has a sponsorship page (593) on the
Cancer Research web site, but if you are not comfortable sending funds
to a website, donations can be sent to James via Crossman
Hall, Holy Island and we will pass on any cheques to
James via his Family. Thank you.
Bye for now
David - Contact email@example.com
the new Crossman Hall website: firstname.lastname@example.org
|THE SWALLOWS RETURN BUT ARE THERE PROBLEMS AHEAD?
a single bird captures the spirit of summer then it's surely
the Swallow swooping fearlessly past bystanders to reach its nest, hopefully containing a brood
of hungry and shrill youngsters.
As a species, Swallows have everything going
for them. Firstly, we welcome them as harbingers of summer. We
marvel at their sheer courage in flying the full length of Africa
and half of Europe, overcoming numerous hazards, to reach us. Then finallly we regret their August
and September migration gatherings on the island's wires and roofs as a sign that
autumn and winter are coming.
Of course, they have the added advantage
that they're among the loveliest of birds. Their steely blue plumage catches the
light as they fly. They have neat little red chins, pristine white under-parts and
long and elegant tail streamers.
In the 16 years I've been studying and
ringing them on the island I've always found that folk take great
pride in "their" Swallows. They look out for them coming and welcome
them back with the same nesting sites often being used year after year.
The fishing sheds, the Long Passage in Marygate and the church porch as classic
examples of very old-established sites.
This year the first reached the island
around April 16, a week or so later than the earliest arrivals in
recent years. It's just as well they were delayed further
southwards. As you'll all probably remember, April, apart from
the Easter weekend, was a dry but decidedly chilly month. The
weather was dominated by an easterly airflow which kept temperatures below
the monthly average. Those early arrivals must have struggled to find vital food in
the form of flying insects.
However, numbers gradually built up through
the rest of the month and during May when the first half of that
month also had below average temperatures with wind coming from a
predominantly northerly direction. At the time of writing in
mid-May I reckon that local Swallow numbers are still fairly low, repeating the pattern of the
last three or four years. Last year was particularly poor on the island and
across the country in general.
However, we should remember that Swallow
populations can be subject to wide fluctuations. For instance, from
the 1990s up to around 2010 the numbers of Swallows, our most
widespread summer visitor,
gradually increased across Britain. However, since then numbers have been in decline, something reflected
right across their European range.
Our Swallows don't waste any time in getting
on with breeding. Just two days after those first birds arrived on
the island. I watched from only about a dozen yards as a handsome
male perched twittering on the wire fence along the main drain near the Coastguard station. He
then dropped down to the bank below and started tugging out short pieces of
dried grass as nesting material.
He then flew off, blade of brown grass in
his beak, towards the fishing sheds. He'd obviously already started
work on building or, more likely, refurbishing an old
nest with some fresh material. Swallows often save themselves time and bother by tidying
up and re-using old nests.
By the time you're reading this some early
pairs could have hatched first clutches of eggs. I'll have to get my
ringing pliers ready for a bit of work. This year I've also
volunteered to collect egg shells or any un-hatched eggs from these local
nesting sites as part of an international investigation into a possible cause of the
recent decline of the species.
This follows the recent discovery of
surprisingly high concentrations of the pesticide DDT in the eggs of
Swallows nesting in Holland.
This was intriguing as the substance, along with other persistent organophosphates, has been banned
throughout Europe since the 1980s.
This was part of an action taken after it
was found that these substances were poisoning large numbers of
small birds which fed on land where they'd been used as seed and
crop dressings. The problems then continued right up the food chain.
Some species at the top of the chain, including Peregrine falcons,
were almost wiped out. They were both being poisoned by their food and
were also failing to produce young because the shells of their eggs became so
thin they broke during incubation.
However, DDT is still being used in Southern
Africa, the wintering area of our Swallows, to lessen the spread of
disease. Research has found that the substances run off the
land into rivers, ponds and other water. They are absorbed by
organic matter and then get into the bodies of tiny insects on which the
Swallows feed. Swallows are then carrying this contamination with them, as shown by the
analysis of eggs in Holland..
| Wire fences make ideal
perches for our Swallows Photo: Mike S Hodgson
This summer more samples are being collected
there also across Britain, Germany, Switzerland and Finland. This
will help to measure the extent of the
problem. It may shed light on the potential contribution of this exposure on the
decline in the Swallow population.
I haven't noticed any breeding problems
among our local Swallows or received any information for other
birders who ring large numbers of their young. Our local Swallows usually succeed
in raising their broods, some also managing second families, so there doesn't appear to
be any problems with egg-thinning.
But the research could indicate if there are
any problems to look out for in the future. It would be sad to think
that events thousands of miles away could have an impact on one of our best-loved summer visitors. Meanwhile, let's
just sit back and enjoy the spectacle of them around the village over the
next three months or so.
Despite being so busy and having lots to talk about, it
is always the same at this time of the month for me - the
request comes in from the editor of this noble publication for a
new article and suddenly the mind goes blank... What on earth
am I going to write about? I'll have conversations with myself along the
lines of -Well I could mention the... no that's just plain boring' or
-Perhaps the... nobody is interested in pigeon muck in the drains', and so on.
Then I remembered some
of the letters I had through this month and all was well.
There's been some crackers in the last few weeks. First of all it was lovely
to hear from David and Sue Robinson - once of this very postcode being
as they were custodians of the Castle from 1983-2002. The photo enclosed
of snow on the inside of the office window (which was
their bedroom) is quite something, and a reminder of how unpleasant things could
be up here. Sue's story of being without water for weeks due to
frozen pipes and huddled under duvets is all too common in the Castle archives.
A second letter was a little more out of the
blue but also concerned a past resident. A Mr John Kinross was about
to publish a book entitled Churches on the Marches (the Welsh
Marches as opposed to this border up here) and had come across a memorial in Breinton
Church near Hereford. The memorial had only recently been cleaned up and
commemorated the life of Captain Rudhall Booth, once -Comander in Cheife of the
Holy Island'. He had died of a -violent fever' in 1685 aged
only 24. He might even have witnessed quite a few events
on the Island during his time here; The Duke of Monmouth's visit
in 1679, Sir Martin Beckman's survey of 1682, the completion of Osborne's Fort on the
Heugh and possibly even the appearance of those wall paintings we found in the
Kitchen a couple of years back. The 1670s and 80s have left
a disproportionately large amount of material for some reason and this
poignant little plaque in a church 327 miles away (I checked) is another
to add to the archives, a stark remind of the fragility of life
in those days and the diversity of the men who served in the Castle.
Closer to home the
Castle had a decent Easter all told, and we have been enjoying the recent good
weather on the Island. This has also helped our gardeners led by new gardener
Fliss get cracking on the Jekyll Garden to get it ready for
summer - if you haven't seen it in the last few
years it really is worth a visit in July - September. You can
now actually buy the very sweet peas grown in the garden in our
shop in the village, as well as the roses planted in the western beds.
|NATURAL ENGLAND LINDISFARNE NNR
It has been a busy month here on the Reserve. We welcome new Reserve Manager Andy Denton to the
team, who has previous experience as Seasonal Site Manager on Noss National
Nature Reserve in Shetland, as well as working as a Ranger on
the Farne Islands. We also have recruited two Shorebird Wardens, who will work
along side Lead Shorebird Warden Katherine Dunsford at Lindisfarne this year.
Shorebird season is well under way, yet last week a large skein
of Barnacle geese flew over Fenham Flats, continuing their migration
from the south to Svalbard - an odd sight as Little Terns were
feeding in the foreground. Winter and summer captured in one image.
Little Terns, Arctic Terns, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher all
are sitting tight across the Reserve. Little Terns are the second
rarest nesting seabird in the UK and are no bigger than a tennis
ball! They lay their eggs directly onto the ground in a -scrape' and
are well camouflaged in the sand. The breeding success of these
little birds, as well as that of the Ringed Plover is in decline and
one factor adding to this decline is increased human and dog
disturbance. Visitors to the Reserve can help protect them by
keeping dogs on a lead at all times and respecting the fenced off
Ringed Plover - credited Andy Denton
The interpretation point at Budle Bay is now complete! It offers
spectacular views across the mud flats, where at this time of the
year Terns can be seen feeding in the Bay.
Following some TLC, the willow sculptures featuring the wildlife
of the Reserve are back around the self-guided Nature Trail.
Leaflets detailing the route of the trail can be found in the Window
on Wild Lindisfarne, which is the starting point, as well as in the
Lough Hide. The Nature Trail is a great way to see amazing wildlife
butterflies and passerine birds, however please stay on the main
paths and desire lines as Skylarks and Meadow Pipits are nesting on
the ground hidden beneath the grass.
Over the coming weeks, we will continue to have a presence on the
beaches to make sure the breeding shorebirds have all the protection
they need to have another successful year at Lindisfarne National
Nature Reserve. Please come and chat to the wardens about the birds
- we are always happy to chat!
Lead Shorebird Warden
|FROM FORD & ETAL
Sunday 9th June: "The Bamburgh Run".
Vintage motorcycle run starting and finishing in Etal village.
Come along from around 9.30am to see this spectacular array of
vintage and veteran motorcycles, the oldest dating back to 1903, and
meet the riders. The run begins at 10.30am with the
motorcycles embarking on an 80 mile round trip, returning
to Etal about 2pm.
Monday 10th June: Pub Quiz
at the Black Bull.
Saturday 22nd June: Iron Age
Day (Tillvas) at Etal.
Sunday 30th June: "Ready, Teddy Go" at
Heatherslaw Light Railway. Meet the teddies hard at work in
the railway station; bring your own teddy or take one of the
Railway's for a day out on the train and around Etal and
Heatherslaw. Take your Teddy with his Passport to Lavender
Tearooms, Heatherslaw Tearoom and Heatherslaw Mill
for a special treat.
Sunday 30th June, 6-9.30pm:
Logi Firewalking presents a sponsored charity firewalk at Broomhouse
Farmhouse. £22.00 per entry. All profits from entry fee
go to mental health charity. For more information/to book
contact 07729195559 or visit www.facebook.com/broomhousefarmhouse
Details of all the above can be found at www.ford-and-etal.co.uk
|FROM THE VICARAGE
||Rev Canon Dr Sarah
been thinking a lot about pilgrimage lately. About what it means,
about how our journeys together through life and faith can lead us
to connect better with God, with each other, and with our planet.
Many people come to Holy Island as pilgrims, as people who journey.
Whether that's to walk in the beauty of nature, or to bird watch, or
to discover the spiritual heritage of this beautiful island. Or
whether it's the place we call home, or the place we work. All of us
have a story of our journey across the causeway. And for each of us
it is different. What can we learn from each other about how to live
well together in our world as we journey through it? What is your
story of crossing the causeway? Well, all journeys start with the
same thing - our stories. Your story, my story, all our stories. We
are not all the same, and we do not all need to agree on everything
all the time. But how can we live well together if we do not know
something about each other, if we do not share our stories, if we do
not try to understand the other? So how do we start to address this?
Well, we start with sharing our stories, sharing ourselves, our
lives, our hopes and dreams. And so I am going to share with you a
story, about a particular journey, but in fact, it is a story that
we can all enter, because it is above all, a story about how we live
together, how we learn together, how we can build relationships and
live better together.
This story is about a train journey - the
-peace train'. A few years ago, I was working in South Africa,
and I travelled with 47 survivors of a bomb attack in the Western
Cape. The bombs went off on Christmas Eve in 1996, in which 4 people
died, and 70 injured. We journeyed to meet one of the perpetrators
in Pretoria Prison. Stefaans,17 at the time he planted the bomb, was
a member of a white supremacist group which targeted black people.
For years he has been asking to meet the survivors so that he can
make an apology.
Setting off from the station felt like the
first stage of a pilgrimage- a journey to a place of encounter, and
then returning to the ordinariness of life, yet with hope of
transformation. Pilgrimage involves time apart to prepare for
encounter, and as we slid past the barren Karoo landscape baking in
the sun, the turmoil of people's emotions was palpable. Anger, fear,
grief, were contained by the rocking of the train and the growing
sense of community as we held groups to prepare the survivors for
the encounter with -the bomber'. 'Seeing' the person who left your
family without the breadwinner; who took away your child; who left
you scarred, seemed to be very important. Some wanted to tell him
how angry they were, some wanted to be able to forgive, all wanted
to share their story of that 'black Christmas'.
And the 'encounter'? A hall in the prison
filled with survivors, prison staff,the press, a choir...and
then Stefaans enters. Thin, upright, tearful as he listened to their
stories, and answered questions. He said, ' I am really sorry for
what I have done. I don't deserve anyone's forgiveness.' Some of the
survivors gave him their forgiveness, others said they are still
very angry and cannot yet forgive him. A queue of survivors embraced
him before he was taken out. An encounter which felt truthful,
hugely painful, embodied, hopeful, sacred.
Waking up in my cabin on the train the next
morning on the journey back, I watched a herd of springbok jumping
in the veld. The sense of relief on the train matched their light
It was a huge privilege to journey with
them. Our journeys through life may not be easy, often they are
difficult. They can take courage, and faith, but in a world
which is so broken, this peace train provides a beacon of hope. As
we journey across the Holy Island causeway, my prayer for us all is
that we also find our beacon of hope. Let me know!