It’s coming to something when the only piece of post I have today is from a company trying to sell me hearing aids, with some free batteries to tempt me! Still, the trees where I walk every day with the dog are beginning to bud, as are the shrubs in my garden. I have a single miniature daffodil too!
I was surprised to see just how many buds and flowers there were in Northumberland when I went to stay last week. (You see I do have an exciting life sometimes). There were lambs in the fields too. The main pleasure of this time away was being with friends, some of whom I’ve known for over 60 years. I enjoy the company so much and one of my friends is very good at arranging small trips for us. All of us used to enjoy walking and the first time we got together we walked a section of Hadrian’s wall. Now though, most of us enjoy a short walk and leave the couple who are still very active to stride off without us.
The week was so interesting that I thought I would tell you a little about it before going off to talk about my travels further afield.
Our first surprise was a visit to the Chillingham wild cattle. This is a small herd of about 120 white cattle, which live in a park next to Chillingham castle. Their exact history is unclear and varies according to who is telling it but it is generally accepted that they have had a pure undiluted gene pool for at least several hundred years. They’re not husbanded except to give them a little extra feed in the winter and are not visited by vets. Nevertheless, the herd continues to grow!
We stayed at the Lindisfarne Inn, which is only a mile or so away from the causeway to Holy Island. Last time we were here, we walked the causeway but this time we were happy to be driven!
I was interested in finding out more about St Cuthbert, because my father was named after him. He was an Anglo-Saxon born in 635AD to parents who were Christian converts. He entered Melrose monastery at the age of 16 and was eventually appointed Prior of Lindisfarne (Holy Island). At the age of 41, he decided to become a hermit and left to live on one of the Farne Islands but was persuaded to return to Lindisfarne. But after only two years he resigned and returned to his life as a hermit where he died in 687AD. The monks brought him back to Lindisfarne and buried him.
However, that is not the end of the story. Around 200 years later, the monks evacuated Holy Island in the face of Viking invasions and took his his coffin wherever they went until it was eventually laid to rest in, what is now, Durham Cathedral.
So that is St Cuthbert!
I will save the final story until tomorrow….