Welcome to the seventh Bugle of the Covid-19 pandemic, reporting news and views relating to life in Bowsden
and district in these days of restricted social activity. Published by the Editor every two months, the Bugle is an
independent news-sheet seeking to inform its readers and reflect their opinions. Contributions are always welcome
and should be sent to the Editor (phone 01289 388 543 or e-mail email@example.com) by 26th May for inclusion
in the June issue. n.b. whenever Berwick telephone numbers are quoted, the 01289 prefix will be omitted.
What next for the Virus ? Perhaps at last we are beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of what has been
a very long and very dark tunnel. The Prime Minister has announced his Roadmap for the staged easing of the
Lockdown in England, the dates of course being subject to change should the scientific data trends change
unexpectedly. The first step was the re-opening of many schools and colleges on March 8th and we are all watching
the data closely to see what happens to the infection rates.
We now have two vaccines available (with three more likely soon) and the NHS vaccination programme is well
under way, over 29 million people having been given their first doses in the UK. The programme is being organised
through the GP Networks and locally we have a Berwick hub (using the Pfizer vaccine which must be stored below
-70) serving patients from Well Close, Union Brae, Cheviot, Glendale and Belford practices. Other patients from
these practices are now being vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine in their surgeries as supplies
become available. The Well Up North GP Network can take pride in that last month over 30,000 people in the
Berwick parliamentary constituency had received at least one dose, the fifth highest vaccination rate in the UK.
Bowsden Parish Council held a virtual meeting on Tuesday23rd March using Zoom software to link
Councillors and members of the public, two of whom attended. Draft minutes of the meeting are published on the
Village Notice Board and on the Bowsden website www.bowsdenvillagehall.net
The meeting was saddened to learn the Parish Clerk had expressed his intention to retire no later than the
forthcoming Local Elections in May and an advertisement was drafted for initial placement in the Bugle. It has
since been placed in Lowick Live and Glendale Live, thus far without success. Councillors agreed to sound out
potential candidates from the area before advertising further afield.
The upcoming county wide parish council elections are to be held on Thursday 6th May, together with elections for
County Councillors and the Police & Crime Commissioner.
Are you interested in becoming a Parish Councillor? Why not take the opportunity to help improve where you
live? New blood and ideas are always welcome. Feel free to contact the Parish Clerk for a nomination pack and
for any help needed to complete the forms but there is no time to lose as the papers need to be handed in at
Berwick Library between 29th March and 8th April. n.b. the Parish Clerk can be contacted on 388 871 or at
The Chairman proposed holding a joint event with the Village Hall Committee to celebrate the ending of Lockdown.
This was agreed with enthusiasm and Councillors Reavley and Wilson will progress the matter.
Northumberland County Council Bins for road salt are located for the use of residents in those
villages where NCC does not clear footpaths in icy or snowy weather. Bowsden has one situated beside the
Village Hall and residents are invited to take a bucketful and spread salt if there are icy paths and pavements
outside their properties. Sharp-eyed villagers will notice the bright new bin which has replaced the old one with its
damaged lid (thanks to lobbying of the NCC by the Bowsden Parish Clerk).
The 464 Berwick-Wooler Bus Service into Bowsden was interrupted for several weeks as
buses were unable to reverse safely into the lane beside the former Black Bull inn during demolition works. Thanks
to farmer Richard Cockcroft, temporary arrangements were made by the Parish Council for the buses to reverse
into the yard at Bowsden Hall Farm but they have now reverted to the Black Bull lane for turning around.
Bowsden Village Hall has now been closed for over a year due to Covid-19, as residents will know. In
that time there have been changes, including the appointment of a new Committee after the 2020 Annual Meeting
which was held by Zoom in December. The new Committee was fortunate in that the outgoing Committee had had
the Hall redecorated and it is now fresh and ready to welcome us all back whenever Covid restrictions allow.
The new Committee has had the Hall surveyed, and whilst generally sound, a number of relatively minor jobs were
identified, most of which have now been done. In particular the infamous inner front doors which have caused
intermittent problems for so long have been serviced and are now working properly. Another significant job was
the installation of an accessible repeater fire alarm panel in the entrance lobby. It is intended that the other jobs
identified in the survey will be completed before the Hall re-opens.
The new all-weather bookbox supplied by Glendale Connect is now installed next to the Notice Board and is
already being used as hoped with a fair turnover of books. Users are reminded that during Lockdown, any books
borrowed should be quarantined for at least 24 hours before reading. Any donations of books can either be left in
the bookcase or handed to Eileen Wilson (388 543).
The Committee look forward to resuming popular events such as the monthly Coffee Mornings, the Pub Nights,
Quiz Nights and the very successful Film Nights, all of which depend on the availability of volunteers to share the
sometimes considerable workload involved. The Soup and Sandwich lunches will in future be organised by Bell
View Services of Belford but volunteers will still be needed to serve and clear up afterwards. If you would like to
help with any of these events or have ideas for new activities, please get in touch with any BVH Committee member
(see below for contact details)
The Committee also hope that those who have previously hosted clubs and groups will, when allowed, come back
to help provide the diverse programme which we all enjoyed before the abrupt interruption to Village life as we
knew it. At the last count there were Carpet Bowls, the Bowsden Discussion Group, History Group, Ladies Keep
Fit, Ladies Group, Needlework Group and the Photography Group. If you have any ideas for new activities, please
get in touch with any Committee member.
When allowed, the Committee hope to re-open the Hall with a special event organised jointly with the Parish
Council to mark the return of a social life which has been so badly missed during the long months of restrictions.
Currently at the planning stage, the Committee is keen to hear your ideas and offers of help to make it happen.
Whatever form the event takes, it will obviously be conducted according to any Government guidelines or
restrictions in place at the time in order to be sure that we all keep safe.
Until we can all meet again in person, stay safe, follow the rules and keep your fingers crossed. With best wishes
from the BVH Committee: Pam Brewis (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ),Tom Brewis (387 524), Malcolm
Davis-White (388 685), Katie Holt, Graeme Reavley (388206) and Harry Wilson (388 543)
Northumberland and Tyneside Hospitals have scored highly in Newsweek magazine’s recent
survey of what it terms “the world’s best hospitals”. 2000 hospitals in 25 countries (including 125 in the UK) were
ranked against three criteria: expert recommendations (55%), patient experience (15%) and key performance
indicators (30%). The top six UK hospitals were St.Thomas’s London, University College Hospital London,
Newcastle RVI, Queen Elizabeth Birmingham, Addenbrooke’s Cambridge and Newcastle Freeman Hospital.
Hexham General was 23rd on the list, Wansbeck Hospital was 25th, Queen Elizabeth Gateshead was 43rd,
North Tyneside 58th and Northumberland specialist Emergency Centre (Cramlington) 76th. Other countries in the survey
included the USA, Germany and Canada and each country being scored separately. However Newsweek said
that individual countries’ scores could not be compared as different criteria had been used.
The New Berwick Hospital is making steady progress and Sunderland construction firm Brims has
been appointed as main contractor. Brims has undertaken many projects locally including the splendid Indigo
Hotel (which your editor always knew as the Durham Shire Hall and was the backdrop to many images of the
crowds at the Durham Miners’ Gala). Another fine restoration is Colman’s Seafood Restaurant in South Shields
(the former bandstand known locally as Gandhi’s Temple). New construction is not forgotten with the £8.8 million
office block for Tombola in Sunderland and closer to home is the newly refurbished Blyth Sports Centre.
Work on the Berwick Hospital site has already begun, the first stages involving clearing that part of the site not
currently occupied. This will enable new construction to begin without interruption of hospital services. It is hoped
that the new Hospital will be fully open in 2022.
Approval for the Lowick Black Bull expansion plans is being sought from the County
Council. Taking advantage of the Lockdown to review their operations, the local owners have submitted plans for
a two storey extension to the west giving more dining space on the ground floor and three additional guest rooms
on the first floor, a single storey extension to the east with an additional guest room and a new cellar and an annex
to the rear with a new kitchen, private dining room and lounge and additional guest toilets.
Redevelopment of the former Bowsden Black Bull site is well underway with the first
of the new five-bedroomed houses taking shape. The developer has a photo of a similar property on display at
the site (we understand that this will be the South-facing view of the first house). The two houses are to be known
as Cheviot’s View (not clear why there is an apostrophe in the name) and the asking price is £520,000 each.
The last of the Bowsden ash trees was felled recently and now leaves a sad gap in the view West
from the main road through the village. Many believed there was a Tree Preservation Order on it but although
there had been a Temporary Order it had not been confirmed by the Council and in any event the tree was showing
early signs of ash die back.
Sadly there are many examples of mature trees being felled to allow building development or infrastructure such
as roads and railways. One prime example reported recently in The Times newspaper was a 150 year old London
Plane known locally as the “Happy Man Tree” after an old pub which had stood in Hackney nearby. The tree had
been voted “Tree of the Year” in a poll organised by the Woodland Trust but the site had been sold for housing.
Local residents had been guarding the tree in shifts but to no avail and the tree was felled early one morning.
Clare Smith writes with news of the Bowsden Plant & Seed sharing group:
Now Spring has sprung we can all get into the garden again and see how our plans are progressing. The forest
garden is coming on well and since setting it up, we’ve planted 29 trees and 13 bushes. Most of these are either
edible or beneficial to wildlife and, thanks to some cuttings taken in the autumn there will be more to plant next
year. Next we will be working on incorporating a wild flower area and some perennial vegetables.
I’ve also been sowing loads of seed and so far almost every seed sown has germinated! If they all continue to
grow I will have way more plants than I need. Tomatoes are a prime example. Due to getting more varieties than
I originally planned, I sowed a few of all of them and now have over 50 surplus tomato plants! There will also be
the odd few aubergine, pepper and chilli plants.
If you’d like to swap some seeds or plants then please contact me to join the group. I send out a list of plants/seeds
available on the first of every month and if you want something that isn’t listed, someone in the group may well be
able to help. If you’d just like a few of my surplus plants (all edibles), contact me and let me know what you’d like.
As the season goes on, I am liable to have a lot more! I’m not selling any of the plants but if you’d like some, all
I ask is that you consider making a donation as I’d like to raise money for “Wing and a Prayer Hen Rescue”. This
is a small charity which rescues and rehomes ex commercial laying hens.
Thanks for reading this and, if you want to offer a tomato plant a home, contact me at email@example.com
May 6th is Election Day and polling will take place for Parish and County Councillors as well as for
Police and Crime Commissioners (the last having been postponed from May 2020). Anyone not registered to vote
must apply by 19th April and applications for postal votes must be made by 20th April. More information is
available from firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01670 624811.
The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal was signed on 18th March and provides Government
funding aimed at “achieving sustained and inclusive economic growth” for the five local authorities on both sides
of the Border. This splendid news includes major development of the Maltings theatre in Berwick, support for the
Ad Gefrin Distillery in Wooler and a new play village in Alnwick Garden (details from www.Borderlandsgrowth.com)
Litter and Vandalism in rural areas has been blamed on ”culturally diverse crowds” flocking to seaside
and other beauty spots as a result of Covid restrictions on overseas travel. A recent report by the Lulworth Estate
in Dorset on their experience of visitors last year highlighted “mass littering, fly-camping, graffiti, fire and other
environmental concerns”. Whilst the number of visitors was sustainable, the “huge change in visitor demographic”
caused by Covid led to “environmental degradation such as has never been experienced before”. The visitors
were mainly from the cities on day trips to the beach, sometimes driving for four and five hours each way.
Similar problems were repeated in other parts of the country with huge quantities of litter including barbecues,
empty bottles and cans, paper and packaging and even tents had been discarded by fly-campers in the Lake
District. Serious wildfires had been started by barbecues on Darwen Moor and Longridge Fell in Lancashire and
in Wareham Forest in Dorset. Illegal parking had been a problem in Snowdonia and several cars parked on double
yellow lines had been towed away.
The same problems have also been experienced closer to home and Northumberland County Council held a
conference last year to discuss what needed to be done. Many potential solutions were suggested including more
parking, more toilets available all year round, more litter bins emptied more frequently but the main suggestion
was better education. This would begin in schools but reinforced throughout life by encouraging more
consideration for those who lived and worked in the countryside, using TV and social media as appropriate.
Natural England, the Government environmental watchdog is updating its code for visitors to the countryside to
make it more relevant to the new type of visitor including these from urban areas, ethnic minorities, younger people
and people with long-term health conditions.
St John the Baptist Church at Lowick plans to re-open for Easter services on Good Friday
(April 2nd) and Easter Day (April 4th) but times have yet to be confirmed (see Church Notice Board or Lowick
Corner Shop for details). Up to 30 can attend but masks must be worn and social distancing observed. Names
and contact details of those attending will be recorded. Although not as we would have wished, these will be the
first regular services which our new Vicar, the Revd. Charlotte Osborne will have conducted in Lowick Church and
we wish her and her husband Leo many happy years looking after our spiritual welfare.
An hourly stopping Train Service between Newcastle and Berwick was proposed
to the Government’s Restoring Railways Fund earlier this month by the County Council and MPs for Berwick and
Blyth Valley. While unsuccessful in the first round, it is hoped that a case can still be made for 100mph trains to
stop at intermediate stations such as Cramlington (a short taxi ride to the Northumbria Specialist Emergency
Centre), Morpeth, Widdrington, Acklington, Chathill, Alnmouth and Belford.
Summer Time will officially begin at 00.01 on Sunday 28th March and all clocks should be put forward by
one hour before midnight on Saturday.
Toby’s Tailpiece (a dog’s eye view of the world) is now written by us, Leo and Freya, two
Dalmatians who live with Eileen and Harry Wilson here in Bowsden. This month we are still concerned about the
huge increase in the number of puppies sold during the Lockdowns. The number of visitors to the RSPCA website
searching for “puppies near me” increased between March and August 2020 by 650% compared to the year
before. This despite many less scrupulous breeders raising prices for fashionable breeds, in particular French
Bulldogs and the popular cross-breeds such as Cockerpoos and Labradoodles.
Unfortunately some members of the underworld have noticed the potential for dog theft and ransom. The most
publicised example of this was the recent US “kidnapping” of two of the three French Bulldogs owned by Lady
Gaga. The third escaped but returned to guard the injured dogwalker until help arrived. Happily despite a large
reward being offered, the missing dogs were returned safely a few days later. It is unclear whether the reward
The growing problem of dog theft is now recognised by Police forces all over the country but only one (Nottingham)
has appointed a specialist dog theft office.