Thursday, 27 June 2013


25th June.  I visited Gibside for lunch today.  Nice lunch, nice chat and some very nice tea and carrot cake in the afternoon!

I have to confess, if my memory serves me well, that I have never been into Gibside Chapel.  I broke that duck today.  I think I need to get back with the tripod at some point to take some photographs indoors.  The rosewood is very attractive.

I had hoped to find the Kingfisher on the Derwent, but had no luck, so that is another reason to make a return.  Birdwise it was a quiet day but two Red Kites were briefly seen as I left the chapel.  A pair of Grey Wagtails was seen carrying food to young on the river.  Saddest part of the day was to see so much flower meadowland which seemed ideal habitat to encourage butterflies, but very few butterflies.  I counted one Small Tortoiseshell and maybe two or three individual white species during the few hours I was there.

My friend Hilary passed on to me a copy of the Northumbrian magazine from 1991, for which I have to thank her father.  I’m not a regular reader of this magazine, but found some very interesting articles.  Ian Kerr had written about Short-eared Owls (as he has done in a very recent copy of the magazine), John Steele the local naturalist and artist wrote an article on lichen and having recently visited the Farne Islands I was interested to read an article about Ian Burton who spent a couple of years as a warden on the Farne Islands in the 1980s.  Ian then moved to work at the RSPB reserve at St Bees Head (a place known to me since childhood) and was sadly killed in an accident in the Cumbrian Fells in 1988.  Perhaps you remember the incident, or even knew Ian Burton.

I was also keen to read the article about dovecotes in Northumberland as it made comment about the one at Spindlestone.  When preparing for the RSPB walk up there last month I had read up on this building.  A Newcastle University website is adamant that this building was never used as a dovecote and that there is no evidence what so ever that it ever was.  The site claims that it was a windmill, and only one of two of this type remaining in the Northeast, with the other being in Durham.  There is clearly a long running dispute as to how this building was used.  Dr David Kempe suggests in the article in the Northumbrian that it could have been a windmill prior to being used as a dovecote!  Perhaps that keeps everyone happy!  There is also a very interesting article about Haydon Bridge in which mention is made of John Martin.  I remember as a child looking up at John Martin’s large oil paintings in the Laing Art Gallery, although I had no idea who John Martin was at the time, or that he had connections with Haydon Bridge.

The magazine brought back numerous memories, some longstanding and some more recent.  Another such memory was when I saw the advert for Kielder Bykes (do they still exist?), as a collegue and I took a group of Killingworth youths on a weekend trip in Northumberland around 1990 and one afternoon was spent on Kielder Bykes.  I remember it well as I was cream crackered afterwards.  An account of the weekend would make interesting reading but it’s not for this blog.:-)

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