|A BIT FROM ME
Welcome to our July/August newsletter.
Firstly, thank you to all who kindly
confirmed they had been able to access last month's newsletter
after bulk-mailer restriction from using the personalised sending method.
Other feedback included Malcolm seeking support on TV licencing
and new subscriber, Diane, hoping for musical help.
Located in the previous Reading Room, the Holy Island Archive
(Editor - John Bevan) had a local open day earlier in the week.
Trustees were looking into raising funds to cover its use including
charging non-residents. Hopefully, John will provide clarification shortly. In the meantime,
I certainly recommend looking up the Holy Island section. Well done John and those who helped!
Regular visitors will find the island even more
busy. Nevertheless, please check the causeway crossing times to ensure
a safe crossing between the island and mainland. And if you see
someone who seems to be getting
into difficulty get in touch with the coastguard by phoning the UK
emergency number: 999.
Island Archaeology: Last week the Peregrini
diggers were re-exposing the foundations of the a medieval
chapel on the Heugh. The position looks down into the ruins of the
world-famous and relatively-new (11th century!) Benedictine Priory.
Some postulate its landmark position suggests a period well
before christianity experienced that first Viking
attack. Dating is not yet conclusive and for the time
being, the plan is to leave the site part-exposed for the
benefit of visitors. I also hear that DigVentures (Lisa Westcott
Wilkins) and Dr David Petts (Durham University) may be returning to
continue their search for evidence of the original Anglo-Saxon
Thank you to all our authors for their
contributions this month. As the holiday season builds to a climax
we give ourselves a break from
publishing in August. We look forward to appearing in your intray at the
beginning of September.
Enjoy our newsletter and
the summer holidays.
Google Email: Some of our firstname.lastname@example.org have noticed
this. It seems that from 15th May GMail modified their in-tray
filter. I discovered 'the hard way' when I realised
that certain types of email (webmail) were being excluded from
my in-tray. Gmail provide several solutions to overcome this. I
chose their option: Go to your Google
Account Security page and enable "Allow less secure
apps". At this point my Gmail worked perfectly.
Interestingly, an expert at Firetrust™ tells me: It's not really
that it's less secure - it's just the way people have always
added their passwords to email programs .... No I'm not really
sure exactly what they mean. But I am sort of reassured that Gmail
is now working. And like many I use a Mailwasher™ to check email
before uploading and so far....
wanted to ask for your help with something I hope we
can really make a difference on.
signed this petition to save free TV for older people - would you consider
doing it too? It could make the difference to whether older
people are able to watch TV.
It's very easy to do, all you need to do is
click this link - www.ageuk.org.uk/tvpetition
- and follow the steps.
Thank you so much,
Malcolm B (Yorks)
Ed: Always happy to oblige, Malcolm!
I play the small bagpipes
and acquired a tune called "Lindisfarne".
Do you or anyone know
if it has words or lyrics.
It is a lovely melody and
I belong to a musical group and play it often. Have
you ever heard of this tune?
I enjoyed coming to your Holy Island many years ago. I gave you
a little story of playing my practice chanter beside the stone wall overlooking the
North Sea and the wind was blowing so hard it carried
my music up, up and away!
Ed: I was unable to help so Diane gave permission
to publish her enquiry and has kindly offered to email the
tune (bagpipe notes) to anyone interested. I wonder if it sounds
the same on Northumbrian pipes... ;-)
|HOLY ISLAND CofE FIRST SCHOOL
There's quite a buzz around our school at the moment! You may
have heard that work has begun on the school garden. On a
particularly rainy day, John Moore from 'The Perennial Gardener'
arrived with his team and a mechanical digger. Two skips had been
delivered onto the school field earlier in the week and amidst the
cold, wet June rain, the big garden clear up began. By the end of
the day, the garden was cleared and the skips were filled to
overflowing. Scarlett-Beau explains...
We are delighted with our new garden as we now have an outdoor
space that will give us so many opportunities for learning. Research
by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), shows that gardening
enriches the curriculum, teaches children life skills and
contributes to their emotional and physical health which leads to
the development of active citizens of the future. Our garden will be
like an extra classroom for the children. What a great way to learn!
Thank you to John and his team for all their hard work. We are
members of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening - a programme where
support is given to school through a five-step school gardening
award scheme which begins with planning and growing. We will keep
you posted on progress! Also, if you have any plants or cuttings
that you think would be good for our garden, do get in touch.
In other news, we had an excellent visit to the Great North
Museum in Newcastle at the beginning of June. The day had an unusual
start because this was the day when the train broke down at the Beal
crossing. Scarlett-Beau and Lily-Ella showed great maturity and
resilience as the events unfolded. As we were delayed too long for
the school coach, we continued our journey together and negotiated
the great excitement of multi-storey car parks, lifts and busy
streets to get to the museum just in time for lunch. We then had
lots of time to see Dippy the diplodocus and to visit the Fossil
Stories Gallery. We were very interested to see fossilised crinoids
- the 'sea lilies' we know better as St Cuthbert's beads.
We had an enjoyable visit to Lindisfarne Castle this month. After
a warm welcome from the National Trust team, we explored each room
and used binoculars to look out for landmarks around the castle.
Lily-Ella was excited to see Emmanuel Head in the distance - she had
been walking there a few days earlier - and Scarlett-Beau showed us
her granny's house and her dad's shed next to the harbour. We are
looking forward to returning to the castle in July when we will be
joined by our friends at Lowick.
Sports day was a great success and the weather was kind to us. It
was great to see the children and their families together on the
Island for this important annual event. A particular favourite
was the dressing up race where the children had to put on comedy
hats, scarves and huge wellies before kicking the ball. And it
was good to see a bit of rivalry when the dads were racing - it was
so close, there had to be a photo finish. It was a fantastic
A quick reminder - our Family Fun Day takes place at Lowick on
Saturday 6th July. Thank you to all who have donated prizes for the
grand raffle and the tombola stall. We really appreciate your
As the summer term draws to a close, it's time to reflect on what
has been quite a year for Holy Island First School. Our children
have grown and have learned so much - as you can see below with
Lily-Ella aged three. The girls are keen to learn in the classroom
and this has been enhanced by some wonderful trips and memorable
outdoor 'hands on' experiences.
We are all looking forward to next year - I'll let you know how
the garden is growing and there's more excitement coming up - did
we mention the trim trail? Enjoy the Summer!
Heather Stiansen email@example.com
Island Church of England First School
|THE CROSSMAN HALL
Hello and welcome to flaming June!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here in the North of Northumberland, the weather has been
You will recall that as last month closed, the Coffee Morning
held in the Hall had just closed and it is a delight to announce
that 1,019.00GBPs were raised for Church funds. Very well done to
those who baked and served; to those who manned and donated to the
Raffle and Tombola; and the Guardians of the precious items in the
Bric-a-brac and book sales tables. Of course, we must not forget
those who came from near & far and bought the goods.
In early June we had visits from two couples looking for wedding
venues and I'm happy to say that they have both booked to hold the
Celebrations in Crossman Hall later in the year.
In mid-June we hosted a two day meeting organised by a group of
Norwegians, where regret was expressed at the behaviour of the first
group of Scandinavians to visit the Island in 793AD. This study
weekend went well and ended with a concert of Celtic music.
Please don't forget on Tuesday 23 July, an Island Coffee Morning,
organised by Gillian & Barbara, will be held in aid of James
Douglas's sponsored run in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday 29
September. James is raising funds for Cancer Research. If you are on
the Island on that day pop in and spend or donate.
My notes this month are on the short side, I dashing off
mid-month and will be away until late June early July.
Bye for now
David - Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
the new Crossman Hall website: email@example.com
|SINGLE MUM EIDER DUCK ORGANISE CRÈCHES
If the island ever had to choose a bird as its emblem or to be
included on a coat of arms, I'm certain the Eider duck would be a
After all, they're one of our handsomest and commonest species
and are with us all the year round. They are always present around
St Cuthbert's Island and off the Heugh with large numbers daily
walking out to rest and socialise across at the beaches at the Black
Law and the Beacons.
They're also very vocal, drakes gathering to serenade the females
with far-carrying and repeated crooning calls. This has been
likened, at least for readers of a certain age, with the mock "Oooh,
noo" indignation of the late comedian Frankie Howerd at his
Eiders have a very long association with local
fishing communities in general and, if you believe in legends, with
St Cuthbert in particular. This had led to them being referred to in
the past as St Cuthbert's Duck or, more colloquially, Cuddy's duck.
If you look carefully at Fenwick Lawson's sculpture in the Priory,
an Eider is peeping out from under the hem of his robes.
The links with Cuthbert are based on the regularly repeated
claims that he laid down rules for the protection of nesting females
on the Farne Islands during his solitary retreats from our island.
It it's true then he was Britain's first conservationist well over
1,000 years before the tern became fashionable.
|Ducklings keep close behind mum for protection|
It's a lovely story. But it may be just be that, a lovely story.
I'd really like to think that it was true. Most of what we know
about Cuthbert comes from the writings of Bede but, unfortunately,
he makes no mention of protecting Eiders.
Various attempts to trace the tale's authenticity have failed to
get any further back than the 1880s. So it may just be a fanciful
story dreamt up by those mischievous Victorians. In reality, it
doesn't matter and certainly makes no difference to the
attractiveness of this species.
Down the centuries St Cuthbert's supposed influence doesn't seem
to have counted for very much. Eiders have been heavily
exploited. Adults were shot for food and their eggs were
regularly taken for the table, particularly at times of hardship
during both world wars.
In Scandinavia and Iceland, Eiders were "farmed" for their fine
and soft breast feathers with which they line their nests. They
feathers were used for the original eiderdowns, now largely replaced
by our synthetic modern duvets. As valued as the down was, rather
oddly, I've never been able to uncover any evidence that it was
As if shooting, egg-gathering and the exploitation of nest
linings wasn't enough, I've even heard claims that rafts of Eiders
gathered on the sea were used as handy targets for machine gun
practice during the Second World War.
Thankfully, these days Eiders seem to be left in peace to be
admired and enjoyed wherever they occur around the island.
|A female with ducklings is ignored by the resting drakes [Picture:
At this time of year, of course, there's the added bonus in the
more sheltered spots around the island of the delightful sight of
female Eiders and their crèches of small ducklings.
The female Eiders in their sober brown plumages are among the
single mums of the bird world. The gaudy drakes court them early in
the season, groups of crooners often surrounding and competing for a
single female. The winner mates with the duck and then as far as he
is concerned that's his job done. Away he goes to resume a bachelor
life until the next susceptible female comes swimming by.
It's left to the female to do everything. She prepares the
nest scrape, lining it with her down. She incubates the eggs,
hiding and leaving them for only short periods when she needs to
feed and drink. As soon as the young hatch and their down has
dried she leads them into the sea. Then she has to guard over them
until they are independent.
To make the job a bit easier, females band together and herd
their young into crèches. Several females will co-operate to guard
the ducklings. It's a strategy which gives them a little more
protection from the ever-present menace of marauding Herring ,
Greater and Lesser black-backed gulls and other predators.
Even so the young are still very vulnerable and the mortality rate
is very high.
The other day in Sandham Bay I came upon several of these crèches
in the flat waters between the beach and the barriers of rock
breaking the strength of the open sea. First there was a
single female Eider escorting two well-grown youngsters. Further on
there was a real crèche where four females were watching over 16
ducklings of various sizes. These ranged from tiny birds only a few
days old to companions who were approaching the size of their
|Still fluffy and very vulnerable in a dangerous world|
Then the next day, while driving off the island, another two
female were surrounded by six small and fluffy ducklings was at the
When I come across these crèches I always marvel at the fact that
nearly all of these Eider chicks will have made the perilous sea
crossing from the Farne Islands, one of their few regular breeding
sites along the coast. At this stage their wings are nothing
but stumps so they have to follow mother the hard way by paddling
determinedly across miles of open sea.
It's been many years since Eiders managed to regularly nest on
our island or on the mainland where there is simply too much
disturbance and the ever-present threat from Foxes, Otters, Stoats,
big gulls, Carrion Crows and, of course, from the many dogs which
These days Eiders are very largely confined to nesting on the
offshore islands where at least they are safe from mammalian
predators although not from those with wings.
Life can never be easy for birds like the
Eider, another very good reason to admire and value their presence
around the island..
Since returning it to the Castle in January of this year,
something hasn't been quite right with the Wind Indicator panel in
the Entrance Hall. The wind continues to blow, but not much
indicating seems to be happening.
It was taken out of the Castle - along most of the other contents
- back in November 2016 ahead of the conservation project having
been first hung on the wall in 1913 following its completion by
Macdonald Gill, who himself had been working to a commission for
Edward Hudson/Edwin Lutyens.
The Wind Indicator is fundamentally an oil painting on three
wooden boards held together with iron straps and hung on the wall
with two interlinked brackets at the top and two slotted screws at
the bottom. Fairly simple really. Many of you will know though that
all is not what it seems, for this is more than simply a painting of
Holy Island and the coastline, of the defeat of the Spanish Armada
and St Cuthbert on his little rock churning out beads with his
hammer and anvil. The wind dial at the centre which almost encloses
in the island in a semi-intentional circular metaphor is itself
served by a brass pointer, which is in turn connected to rods and
cogs which snake their way back into the wall, up the chimney,
through the East Bedroom floorboards and skirting and finally
connecting with the wind vane on the roof. In theory then, when the
wind blows the pointer spins around and points the direction from
whence it came, causing a muttering of delight from nearby visitors
and pleasing squeak from one or two less-well lubricated (and out of
But in practice that isn't currently happening. The wind blows
and the pointer moves - sometimes - but it is not consistent and
certainly not accurate. I had a chat with the engineer from
Cragside, who knows a thing or two about cogs and rods and
lubricants, and so we have scheduled a visit from their engineering
volunteers to come over and sort things out. We think a full clean
and relubrication of the mechanism should do the trick.
Interestingly though, back in the early 1990s, the Trust attempted
to get the mechanism working and did so successfully, and in the
process installed a new wind vane. It seems though that this vane is
not quite fit for purpose in that the vane itself is perforated on
one side (arrow on the other) with a rather fetching NT oakleaf
The wind blows and goes straight through and out the other side.
So it might be I need to get a new wind vane. Happily the chap
that made the 1992 one is still trading down in County Durham, and I
recently asked him about a separate job (without releasing he did
the vane) so that was a nice coincidence.
I always say that there is a slightly dark humour about the Wind
Indicator; telling you the way the wind is blowing after you have
battled your way up into the Castle, head down and turned slightly
into your collar, hands in pockets, tears running down your cheeks.
"Thanks Edwin, very funny". In fact, if I'd had a pound for every
time I've said that in the Castle over the last decade or so...
|NATURAL ENGLAND LINDISFARNE NNR
Shorebird Season Update
We are right at the heart of Shorebird
Season here on the Reserve, and what a cracking season we have had
so far. Little Terns, Arctic Terns, Common Terns, Ringed Plovers, Oystercatcher and Eider
Duck have all nested up and down the coast, with Ringed Plovers
already on eggs in mid-April.
Strong winds at the start of May
unfortunately led to a few of the early Ringed Plover nests to be
buried by sand. However, as the weather settled more scrapes were
appearing up and down the coast, and adults began their 21-23 day
incubation of their precious eggs. Ringed Plover pairs form
territories which they are fiercely protective of, and because of
this they attempt to nest in any viable habitat they can. Regular
monitoring by staff and volunteers has given us a better
understanding of the places Ringed Plovers are trying to nest, and
this feeds into our management plans for shorebird protection in the
coming years. Often nesting outside of formal protection zones, they
are vulnerable to accidental trampling by people and dogs as the
eggs are well camouflaged against sand and shingle. Ringed Plovers
will make you aware if you are too close to their nest by alarm calling,
so listen out for the worried tones of birds when walking on the
beaches. We advise avoiding dry sand and keeping dogs on leads to
minimise disturbance to the birds.
|Ringed Plover on the sands|
Sections of beach are closed off between
mid-April and mid-August to give the nesting shorebirds as much
protection as possible to successfully nest and rear young. Ringed
Plover breeding success has declined by over 50% in the past 25
years, mainly due to the loss of suitable breeding habitat.
Similarly Little Tern success has also declined, and according to the Wildlife and
Countryside Act of 1981, they are Schedule 1 birds which means it is
a criminal offence to intentionally and recklessly disturb and/or damage the birds,
their eggs and their young.
Little Tern courtship began early May,
involving graceful display flights and a 'who can catch the biggest
fish to impress the ladies' competition between the male birds. Thankfully fish stocks
appear to be strong this year, which we assess through monitoring the
feeding activity of the birds.
One pair of
Oystercatcher have chosen to nest on the outskirts of the Little Tern colony,
almost acting as bodyguards by chasing off potential predators such as crows,
gulls and even a Sparrowhawk!
The first egg to hatch was the fourth Ringed
Plover pair to nest on the Reserve, aptly named RP4. Chicks are very
small and have been likened
to 'pom-poms on stilts'. Ringed Plover parents have their work cut out, as
up to 4 chicks disperse in different directions as soon as they
can support their body weight.
|Oystercatcher on Scrape|
During a day of heavy rain, the first of the
Little Tern eggs hatched - LT6. As chicks age, their parents
encourage them to venture close to the sea to start to learn how to feed for
themselves, highlighting the need to close sections of the beach to give them
the space they need to learn these essential life lessons safely and
undisturbed by walkers and dogs.
We are now hoping
for a few weeks of glorious sunshine to give the chicks the best
chance of fledging and gain their strength for the long flight back
to Africa for the Winter.
Lead Shorebird Warden
|FROM FORD & ETAL
in Etal Village Hall every Wednesday and Thursday during July and
August except 11th July; also on Bank Holiday Monday.
Kids Baking: in
'the dough zone' at Heatherslaw Cornmill, most Mondays, Tuesdays and
Wednesdays during July and August at 11.30 and 2pm (please check
website/social media for details). Booking advisable 01890
Details of all the above can be found at www.ford-and-etal.co.uk
|FROM THE COMMUNITY OF AIDAN AND HILDA
||Rev Ray Simpson|
Last month I accompanied 17 Norway clergy from
Kristiansand deanery on their coach and lectured, and celebrated
Holy Communion with their dean at St Aidan's Bamburgh
before they walked the pilgrim posts and relaxed at The
Open Gate. Another Norway group came a month after walking St.
Cuihbert's Way. It was good to renew friendships since I have
visited many of their towns and villages.
Dr. Pat Lune brought her US Spiritual Academy
students who came to learn about the soul friend tradition. A group
who nurture spiritual friendship in Canada came on a golfing trip
and we spent a morning together.
Twelve priest/reader bykers from Leeds Diocese invited
me to give them a guided tour and treated me to lunch at The
Ship; It was also good to reconnect with Rev Dr Marcus
Losach, who leads USA Celtic lecture tours, and to meet the
Dean of Texas Cathedral.
Carol Few and I attended the Annual Gathering of The
Community of Aidan and Hilda at Yarnfield Centre, Staffs., to
celebrate our first twenty five years. I gave a power point
presentation starting with my visit to the island over 25 years ago,
Carol took displays of The Open Gate, Kayleah provided the
bookstall, and we had audio visual presentations from three
continents. We ended with a Zimbabwean Church of England Choir
singing in Shona.
Last month I also had the privilege of preaching at
St. Paul's Cathedral, London on Pentecost Sunday on the theme of
fire. I talked about Aidan whose named means fire, and ended with
these words: 'Many fear that fragmenting tendencies may break up the
UK. Billy Bragg also has a song about UK: Its not a proper country,
it doesn't have a patron saint. National newspapers have promoted
Saint Aidan as front-runner to become UK's first patron saint. A
fruit of Aidan's mission was that four previously warring tribes, of
different languages, were bound together in the fellowship of the
I look forward to telling retreatants about Aidan and
the Northern Saints during our early Aidan and Hilda Week,
|FROM THE VICARAGE
||Rev Canon Dr Sarah
As summer approaches (we hope - as I write the mist is down and
more rain threatens!), we look forward to welcoming our many
visitors and pilgrims to Holy Island. As we know, many groups and
individuals from all over the world visit this place of ancient
Christianity, and as a parish we offer our warm welcome and
hospitality. Summer is also a time for fewer meetings, and hopefully
for some time in the wonderful creation God gives us in this place.
I have recently retaken up kayaking, and the last few evenings
paddling off St Cuthbert's beach among the seals has been just
wonderful. Time to reflect on the beauty, holiness and peace of this
Holy island - and to sing with the seals!
We have had some lovely concerts and choral evensongs recently -
the choir of St Martin in the Fields, London, being a recent
highlight. Thank you to all who come to join us in our worship and
cultural offerings. Over the summer we look forward to having with
us the Marygate Singers, the Furness Music Society, the Bondington
Voices, the Weighton Waites Choir and our musician in residence over
St Aidan's weekend , Sam Slatcher. Sam is a singer songwriter who
has a particular interest in songs of sanctuary, from St Cuthbert's
time to the present refugee situation. Dates below.
We are delighted that the Holy Island Reading Room has opened,
both for archival material and a space for meetings. Congratulations
to all who have worked so hard, and with thanks to our funders.
We wish our school children a lovely summer holiday - and also
look forward to the grand opening of the Holy Island C of E Infant
School garden on July 18th. And congratulate Headteacher Rebecca
Simpson and her staff for the recent good Ofsted report...well
St Aidan's Day will be celebrated in church on August
31st/September 1st - more details to follow on our website and
facebook page. Before that, we are delighted to welcome Bishop Mark
of Berwick to Holy Island for baptisms and confirmations on St
Cuthbert's Beach on July 7th at 11.00am (or in St Marys if the
weather doesn't work out!)
We deeply regret the passing of Geoff Smith and of Freddie Hoult.
Our prayers are with their families and friends.
As we think of St Aidan and his ministry here, so we hope and
pray that his mission of gentle peacemaking will long continue.
Rachel Poolman, Minister at St Cuthbert's URC Church and I have
started Ecumenical Prayers for Peace every Thursday at 5.30pm in St
Mary's. As for all our services, everyone is most welcome.
Please do visit our website -
And our facebook page - St Mary's Church -
PS: As the summer season gets into full swing, we think
of those for whom this will be a very busy season, and hope and pray
that those working in our tourist industry on this island may get
some space now and then for much needed rest.
Please be assured of my support - I used to make
candyfloss and serve fish and chips as a summer job!
Dates for your diary at St.Mary's
Sunday July 7, 11.00am: Service of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist on St
Cuthbert's Beach with Bishop Mark (this will take the place of the
usual 10.45am Holy Communion).
July 22 12pm: Furness Music Society concert
July 23 - 26th 9pm: Compline with the Marygate Singers
July 25 5.30pm: Choral Evensong with the Marygate Singers
July 27 3pm: Concert by the Marygate Singers
July 28 10.45am: Choral Eucharist with the Marygate Singers
August 10 5.30pm: Choral Evensong with the Bondington Singers
August 29 1.30pm: Concert by the Weighton Waites Choir
August 29 - September 2: Musician-in-Residence Sam Slatcher, singer/songwriter.