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The Breamish Valley

A picturesque landscape of high hills, open moorland, gently rolling farmland and the scenic River Breamish!


Master craftsmen at Hedgeley

An account given by Robbie Hall in 1980

My grandfather, Robert Hall was born at Brandon White House in 1813. In 1825 he was apprenticed to James Stewart (for six years) who was a shoemaker in Powburn. His indenture, which we still have in the family, is interesting in that it lays down rules for both Master and Apprentice:

“The Master shall teach the Apprentice all he knows of the art and business of shoe-making, and also shall find and supply sufficient meat, drink, washing, lodging and all other necessities during his apprenticeship. The Apprentice shall undertake to faithfully serve, his secrets keep, do his lawful demands gladly, shall not waste or lend his Master’s goods to anyone, shall not buy or sell without his Master’s leave and shall not enter Taverns, Inns or Ale Houses, and shall not play Cards, Dice or any other unlawful game…”

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Easter egg rolling

Egg rolling

I wasn’t in the Breamish Valley over the Easter holidays: I was visiting family back in Durham. And it was in Durham, about 35 years ago, that I first learnt from my father-in-law, Bob about the tradition of egg rolling on Easter Monday.

He would make what he called ‘paste eggs’ – something else I’d never heard of (I was born in Yorkshire!). Basically, these were eggs that he used to hard boil in a pan of onion skins. It turned the eggs’ shells into wonderful shades of brown – some tawny, some golden – each one unique. And if he was really on a roll, he’d add a bit of cochineal from the kitchen cupboard and create red-purple patches and spirals over them.

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Mundane nature?

Mundane nature?

Is there anything about the natural world that’s mundane? Is there such a thing as ‘mundane nature’?

In our daily lives, we can get into a daily grind of just going about our business without thinking. If we have particularly pressured, busy lives, where we’re always clock-watching and rushing to the next business meeting, we can feel that we’re caught in ‘the rat race’. Life seems to be telling us what to do, rather than us taking a step back, taking a deep breath, and deciding what we want to do with our lives.

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Solar Eclipse

Did you see the Solar Eclipse in Breamish Valley today?

We had near perfect viewing conditions in Breamish Valley, with hardly a cloud in sight. Not so for several friends of mine living in Teesside who were stuck under cloudy skies.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves between us and the Sun, casting a shadow onto the Earth. The timing and degree of any eclipse varies with location but in the Breamish Valley we had pretty good views. In all parts of the UK today, the eclipse was about 83% complete but in our part of north Northumberland we enjoyed closer to 95% of visible partial eclipse. The darkness peaked at around 09:35am (GMT) and lasted around three minutes.

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Basking adders

Basking adders in the Breamish Valley

Because adders are reptiles, they are cold-blooded. This means that they are reliant on external energy sources – especially the sun – to maintain their body temperature. They regulate their temperature through basking in the sun or seeking shade. Their body temperature is, therefore, approximately the same as the outside air temperature (ambient temperature). They can, however, be active in temperatures as cold as 6°C. Which was about the temperature yesterday when I saw these two basking adders coiled together at Branton Nature Conservation Area, close to the car park entrance.

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Road safety campaign letter – 2 Mar 2015

Letter received today from Julie Pörksen

Dear all,

Please find attached the letter I have sent to both the head of the Highways Agency (responsible for the A1) and Northumberland County Council. I hope we can get some action on the main routes first as there are known road safety problems on these then put pressure on for any other works required on smaller roads.

I will let you when I get a response.

Kind regards


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