On November 1, Kirkley WI welcomed Graham Mitcheson, a Country Park and Sites Officer at Northumberland County Council.
He gave an interesting and informative talk about Bolam Lake Country Park.
Early maps show the area as Bolam Bog, and it has a long history of Viking, Saxon and Roman settlements and influences.
Big changes to land management of the area were enabled by Parliamentary Acts of the mid 1700s, when wealthy people were able to buy more land to add to their estates.
In 1810 John Beresford and his wife inherited Bolam Hall with surrounding land, and in 1816 he engaged a young John Dobson, of Newcastle, to landscape it and produce a pleasing view of parkland from the hall.
The parks were completed in 1819, the year that John Beresford became Lord Decies.
The present park is now almost 200 years old and needs constant upkeep. Ageing and diseased trees are removed and there is a programme of replanting.
The lake is gradually silting up and will need a large investment of money to rectify the problem.
Bracken clearing has been needed to clear views across the Pheasant Field to the lake and to redefine the field area. The major ongoing clearance of common rhododendron species enables the soil to become less impoverished and ensures the regeneration of a more diverse ground cover.
This clearing will make the lake edges more visible and accessible, and enable the islands on the lake to be appreciated as separate islands.
Large sums of money and many man hours have been consumed keeping the park accessible and this pattern will continue, ensuring that Bolam Lake Country Park, built in the 19th century, is available for everyone to enjoy for years to come in the 21st century
Our October meeting was our AGM.
In September we welcomed Gary Loader, a motorcycle volunteer for Northumbria Blood Bikes.
Parking outside our Kirkley Hall door, it was great to get a chance to inspect his bike and some of us took up his offer of sitting on the saddle.
It was amazing to learn how Gary and other volunteer riders travel at all times of the day or night, and in all weathers, to deliver the essential blood, platelets and medical items that are saving lives all over our region.
Blood Bikes also supplies these items to the Great North Air Ambulance so it can have blood onboard helicopters, a practice only started in the last few years.
Blood Bikes cannot operate without a large group of co-ordinators, who keep track of journeys, organise rotas and keep in touch with the drivers, who cover great distances alone.
The bikes are sometimes donated by companies, but also bought by fund-raising. The servicing and insurance of these vehicles is crucial.
Northumbria Blood Bikes is a Registered Charity. Everyone is a volunteer and it could not function without all the great efforts of fund-raising.