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The Northumbrian Pipes and Kathryn Tickell

Kathryn Tickell was at The Stables, Milton Keynes last night.

The music was wrapped around the stories of shepherds and farm labourers on the hills of the North Tyne valley. My father’s great grandparents and several of my mother’s too came off the land above Hexham, from Newton, to Chatton and Alnwick, to find work on Tyneside in the mid to late 19th century.

For a while my father lived in Chollerford, on the North Tyne and I was at school for five years down the road at Newton.

Trips out to Kielder, before and after the reservoir, were common. We often drove into Scotland over the fells via Wooler and Jedburgh.

In the 1920s my grandmother and her sisters would go and stay in Rothbury for the summer.

Northumberland, you could say, has some resonance for me.

I have a book of memoirs from 100 years ago which were brought up to date with stories of dreadful winters in 1963 which I don’t remember and of 1979 that I do as I often struggled trying to get from my father’s place in the Eden Valley, to my girlfriend in Wylam then home to Gosforth.

Picnic spots, school camping trips, parties in Church Halls and even singing in The Tynedale Festival and in churches in Hexham, Corbridge, Matfen and Alnwick.

Do I hanker after it?

The brackish water, bogs and ferns? a drive along the Military Road below Hadrian’s Wall would be enough.

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