Welcome to the second Bugle of the Lockdown, reporting news and views relating to life in Bowsden and district. Published every two months, the Bugle is an independent news-sheet seeking to inform its readers and reflect their opinions.

Two months ago few of us would have foreseen the events which have resulted in such profound changes in our way of life. It is more than likely that there will never be a return to “normality” as we knew it, nor is it altogether desirable that there should be. Turning back the clock could never have happened spontaneously but there have been many positives arising from Lockdown. How many journeys do we really need to make, how many meetings do we need to attend, do we really
have no time for exercise?

We must not forget the times when 100yr-old Captain Sir Tom Moore raised over £33million for NHS charities, when we all turned out on Thursday evenings to clap for the NHS, when no-one went shopping without checking whether the neighbours might need something and when we all looked out for each other. We must not forget how our engineers built a 4000 bed hospital in less than two weeks or our scientists developed comprehensive virus testing systems. We must not lose what has cost so much to achieve.

The August Bugle should be published in late July so please let the Editor have any material by 24th July (phone 01289 388 543 or e-mail thebugle@bowsdenvillagehall.net).

Bowsden Parish Council

Bowsden Parish Council last met on February 17th and the minutes of the meeting are posted on the Village Notice Board and on the Village Hall website. The Annual General Meeting of the PC was to have been held on 18th May but has been postponed, together with similar meetings all over the country. Revised arrangements for the signing-off of the annual accounts will be announced on the Village Notice Board.

Bowsden involvement in the Keeping Lowick & District Connected initiative is formally through Councillor Julie Gibbs, Councillor Graeme Reavley and Mrs. Chris Jackson. They have lists of volunteers who have offered to support those of us who are confined to our homes and will pass on names of others who wish to be added (more information is available from Jane Pannell (388 321), Sheila Bell (388 252) or Karen Blake (388 644)).

The Village Hall Committee

The Village Hall Committee has closed the Village Hall to all activities until further notice. Café Bowsden and the Bowsden Arms are of course closed and there will be no more Community Lunches for the foreseeable future. The Annual General Meeting planned for 29th April was postponed and the existing Committee pro tem continues in office. News of re-openings will be posted on the Village website www.BowsdenVillageHall.net and on the Notice Board.

Village Hall Clubs and Groups

Bowsden has been very fortunate to have a number of enthusiastic volunteers who give their time to organise various groups which meet in the Village Hall and cater for a wide range of interests throughout the year. Currently we have the Bowlers, the Bowsden Discussion Group, Get Fit Together, the Bowsden History Group, the Ladies Group, the Needlework Group and the Photography Group, all of whose activities have been temporarily suspended during the Lockdown. Check the website or Notice Board for news of restarts.

The Corona Virus Threat

The Corona Virus Threat is far from over and too many people are still becoming infected. Although the strict Lockdown is easing and some relaxations are happening every day, social distancing is still required to minimise the spread of infection and is now being enforced on the Tyneside Metro and on the LNER as people are beginning to travel to work.

New Government advice to “Stay Alert” has replaced “Stay at Home” in England and is gradually becoming accepted as a common sense approach to the wider issues but common sense is sometimes in short supply.

Northumberland is still discouraging visitors as hotels, guest houses, restaurants, cafes, some car parks (see page 3) and many public toilets remain closed. Garden centres and some shops have re-opened and most of the others will be opening in mid-June. All will have some restrictions on access. In one of the more unusual examples of access control, Waterstone’s bookshops will be collecting any books browsed but not bought and storing them for three days before returning them to the shelves.

All restaurants, pubs and clubs are still closed indefinitely but some are now providing a hot food takeaway service. Use of such services is not only a pleasant change for those of us in self isolation but could be vital for the survival of the business. Check the availability of takeaway food from your local pub and see if delivery can be arranged or whether it would be necessary to collect at a pre-arranged time.

The County Garden Waste collection service has been resumed and Northumberland Household Waste Collection depots at Berwick and Wooler have also re-opened (the latter with a one-way traffic flow and a limit on the number of vehicles permitted in the yard at any one time). Bagged household waste, garden waste and wood should be deposited in the appropriate bay or skip.

Corona Virus Hints and Tips, all worth repeating

As the virus can survive for several days on hard surfaces such as metal or plastics, it is vital to minimise contact and wash hands immediately after where contact cannot be avoided (such as on door handles used by others).

A supply of disposable plastic gloves can be kept in the car and used when making purchases in shops or dispensing fuel (many garages and supermarkets keep a stock on the forecourt) and a bottle of hand sanitiser is also invaluable.

Where possible, goods and services should be paid for by card (the contactless card limit was raised to £45 on 1st April) and the handling of cash minimised.

If your car or van is due for an MoT certificate after 1st April, the Government has deferred theneed for a test (or retest) for six months.

Local Buses and Deliveries

  • The Borders Buses 464 service is still running to its revised timetable as of 29th May. The first bus from Berwick to Wooler leaves Bowsden at 0929 and returns to Berwick picking up in Bowsden at 1029. Some timings will change when schools restart.
  • Ringtons traditional tea and coffee delivery will probably restart on Friday 29th May but best call 0800 052 2440 to confirm
  • Ross Dougal’s fresh fish calls on Thursday afternoons (phone 01890 751911 to arrange a delivery and their stall is still available in Berwick Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
  • The Lowick Village Store will always take orders for fresh bread (from Ford’s Bakery at Norham), meat, bacon and pies (from Johnson’s of Wooler), milk, fruit, vegetables or any other groceries, beers, wines and spirits. Open daily but early closing during Lockdown. Phone Karen or Ritchie on 388 644 to arrange collection or delivery (free up to 3 miles)

Social Distancing in the 1950s

No, not Covid -19 but your Editor’s early experience of enforced isolation might strike some chords amongst Bugle readers as we seek to cope with Lockdown. At the time I was an only child living in a Durham pit village and going to school in Newcastle. My father was a schoolmaster and my stepmother was a nurse in charge of the medical centre at the local colliery. My journey to school was always a source of interest as the bus route to Newcastle was crossed by four level crossings, two of which were NCB rope-worked inclines. Rarely did the bus get through without being stopped at least once.

I suppose with my stepmother being a nurse I had an interest in matters medical and at that time our local council published figures for the number of cases of infectious diseases occurring in the District. Often reading these whilst waiting for a bus, I never thought that I would feature in one report. Coming home from school one day and feeling unwell I was duly sent to bed and, feeling no better the next day the Doctor was summoned. I never heard the diagnosis but the outcome was clear, I was to be sent off post haste to the local Isolation Hospital where I was to stay for the next three weeks.

Scarlet fever it was and I developed all the classic symptoms including the unique strawberry tongue which I examined daily in the hope that it would have gone and I might be allowed home. As a 14yr old, I was too young to be given a bed in an adult ward and so was put in a children’s ward where I was about twice the age of the next oldest patient. This posed a few problems, not the least of which was the early lights out (which meant reading by torch light under the sheets). One concession to my age was that I was given an adult diet, crucially with supper at 6 instead of tea at 4.

Isolation meant I could receive mail but not send any replies and I soon exhausted the books which the nurses brought from the hospital library. My main solace was the hospital headphones but I longed for some Meccano or a model aeroplane kit. My routine was rudely interrupted when I caught my thumb on my locker, putting a wooden splinter under my nail. Sadly the wound turned septic and I was put on penicillin injections every six hours (necessitating being woken at midnight for an injection into my backside). Eventually my thumb got better, my red skin all came off and my strawberry tongue disappeared and I heard the magic words “You can go home tomorrow”.

Unfortunately there was yet another trial to bear. In my absence my room and bedding had been fumigated but my old teddy bear had been destroyed. I had had my bear for years and it took a long time to forgive my stepmother for allowing him to become a casualty. I can’t remember when we stopped sending patients to Isolation Hospitals but I did drive past the site of my incarceration a few years ago. It must have been long gone for in its place was a well-established housing development complete with a few trees.

It seems strange that we are all now experiencing our own form of isolation, at best in family units but sometimes on our own. Let us hope that the pandemic soon passes its peak and we can begin to return to what must surely be a very different world from that which we left behind.

Coastal Car Parks Re-opened

Coastal Car Parks Re-opened in Northumberland in time for the Bank Holiday weekend but some of the most popular remained closed. Like all local authorities responsible for areas attractive to tourists, Northumberland has had to balance the risks of re-opening with the continued loss of business where car parks and public toilets remain closed. 41 car parks were opened including Beadnell, Berwick Pier Field and Sandy Beach, 3 in Spittal and 2 in Warkworth. but 12 remained closed including Bamburgh, Berwick Castlegate overflow, Craster, Holy Island, Seahouses and Rothbury. We have yet to see how the public will respond but in other parts of the country the cars have come and parked anywhere, blocking roads and gateways, causing considerable inconvenience and danger for local residents.

The latest Border issue

The latest Border issue dividing England and Scotland can be seen when one is driving along the banks of the Tweed between Cornhill and Kelso. Differences between the two Government’s approaches to the relaxation of Lockdown mean that one is now allowed to fish for salmon from the English bank but not from the Scottish side. It would be interesting to see if the salmon are now favouring the Scots as they journey upstream.

The Black Bull Inn

The Black Bull Inn in Lowick has been sold to a local consortium who intend to re-open it as soon as Lockdown is relaxed. Great news for locals who were dismayed when the previous owners advertised the pub for sale a few months ago. The new owners have applied for planning approval for an extension to the East end of the building which will provide a residents’ lounge and a private dining room, both welcome additions.

Adapt or Die

Adapt or Die has been the slogan of many successful businesses who have responded to imposed changes in their markets. A great local example is Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes from Tiptoe near Duddo who had developed a niche market for their gourmet varieties. Customers included Michelin-starred establishments such as L’enclume at Cartmel and Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxford. Closure of these restaurants meant the near collapse of the market so owners Lucy and Tony Carroll looked elsewhere for new customers.

One outcome is a new retail outlet at the farm where customers can order 1.5, 2.5 and 12.5kg bags for collection at the farm gate. Orders can be placed by phone 01890 883060 or by e-mail via lucy@heritage-potatoes.co.uk. There are 14 varieties from which to choose, including the local Mr.Little’s Yetholm Gypsy, first grown in 1899. At the other end of the marketing spectrum, Carroll’s potatoes are now available at Tesco’s in Berwick.

Parking Penalties in Northumberland

Parking Penalties in Northumberland were revealed in a recent Freedom of Information answer which stated the number of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued in
Northumberland since new charges were introduced in December 2018 (where car parking is Free All Day, 24 hours only is free with no return allowed for 4 hours). Almost half the PCNs (50 penalties ) were issued in Berwick in Castlegate, Coxon’s Lane, Foul Ford and Quayside.

Toby’s Tailpiece (a dog’s eye view of the world)

Written for the Editor by Leo and Freya, two Dalmatians who live with the Editor and his wife in Bowsden (established readers will know that this column is named in the memory of Toby, our black Labrador friend who died in May 2018 aged 15. We still remember him chasing us around the garden…..we were always faster than he !)

We heard from a reader who had had a letter from a friend in Spain to say that Covid-19 restrictions were now having an adverse impact on dogs. Anyone walking a dog or dogs has to be able to provide proof of ownership if challenged by police as apparently the same dogs were being walked by more than person. Perhaps even a dog can have too much of a good thing !

We are sorry to return yet again to the problem of dog poo on our village paths and verges which, sadly for we better brought up dogs, is getting worse. Many more walkers are now using the better known paths and some of them are now quite disgusting. There are no excuses for not picking-up and owners must be responsible for their dogs and keep an eye on them when allowed to run free. Poo bags are cheap (or free from Berwick Library when it re-opens) to registered Green Dog Walkers and can be disposed of in any NCC black waste bin.

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