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Our Heritage, Traditions & Culture

In Northumberland we are undoubtedly proud of our history, however we are equally passionate about our heritage and our culture and you will find Northumberland is steeped in many traditions. From our own tartan to our unique small pipes, from our flag to our sword and clog dancing, and not to mention our well known accent and dialect!

Our wonderfully colourful and distinct yellow and red flag dates from the 7th century, it has a chequered history and the pattern is thought to represent the interlocking stones of Hadrian’s Wall. The flag is quite rightly, only allowed to be hung within the County of Northumberland!

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Northumberland flag

A lesser known of our traditions is the Northumbrian Rapper Sword dance with the dance originally performed by miners in the pit villages of Northumberland and County Durham, however this traditional dance is now performed and can be seen worldwide. The Northumbrian traditional clog dancing was first performed by mill workers back in the 19th century and mimicked the noise of the looms going back and forth and then subsequently taken up by miners where it became a more distinctive ‘pedestal style’ dance with little upper body movement meaning that sometimes the top of a beer barrel would used as a tiny stage.

It’s smart and it’s ours! The black and white Shepherd or Border plaid is the official tartan of the Northumberland. It was actually originally woven with natural black and white sheep’s wool, before natural plant dyes were later used to produce the distinctive check we see today. The pattern itself is thought to be one of the oldest known tartans and is even thought to date back to roman times. You will find some lovely Northumberland Tartan gifts in many local shops….the perfect keepsake to take home to remind you of your visit!

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Proud of our Northumberland tartan

The Northumbrian small pipes are a melodious bellows-blown bagpipe, and they have been an important factor in our local musical culture for more than 200 years. They are rather quiet and more softly spoken in comparison to other bagpipes and are normally played indoors. The full history to this small part of our heritage can be found in the Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum

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Northumbrian Small Pipes

I’m born and bred Northumbrian and I have the accent and the dialect that goes with that. Officially, the Northumbrian dialect was one of Old English spoken in the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria. It is today a dialect with a long tale to tell which is full of tradition and now even with it’s own Society to ensure that part of our culture doesn’t disappear.

We know that to many we’re just Geordies or Scottish and I’ve even heard it confused with Irish, we are however most definitely Northumbrian. Following a couple of confused looks from guests wondering what I meant by “you’ll need to wear your boots because the gateway is clarty”, I’ve put together a small selection of local words and phrases in the hope that they’ll help you when you visit us!

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  • Canny – pretty, nice or good
  • Clarty – muddy
  • Howay – come on
  • Howay man – general term of encouragement to hurry up
  • Hoy – pass or throw (not to be confused with Gannin’ on the Hoy which is to going out to consume vast amounts of alcohol)
  • Bubble – to cry
  • Hinny – wife or female
  • Gadgie – adult male
  • Stott – to throw an object (not to be confused with stottie which is large flat bread used to make a large sandwich
  • Clamming – really hungry
  • Hacky – dirty
  • Haddaway – go away
  • Plodge – wade, splash or paddle (often in the clarts)
  • Chocker – full
  • Bait – food
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Our daughter proudly demonstrating plodging in the clarts

Of course across Northumberland the dialect, the sounds and pronunciation alter, and there are four main dialects you will find across our region. Tyneside the classic ‘Geordie’, Southern which is known as Pitmatic and heard around Ashington and south-east Northumberland. There’s Northern which is North of the Coquet through Alnwick and up to Berwick, and of course our own area, Western, which is from Allendale through Hexham and up to Kielder.

Our history and heritage is rich, our culture is unique and we hope when you visit us, you enjoy all Northumberland has to offer. Each year in April, our heritage and culture are celebrated, The Morpeth Northumberland Gathering is a true gathering of people who come together to enjoy the traditional culture of Northumberland and the wider NE region. It features concerts, dance, crafts, battle re-enactments, dialect, stories, drama, workshops, sessions, singarounds, competitions, stalls, bell-ringing, orienteering, tours, walks, talks and street performances. The 2020 event will take place from 17th-19th April and will be a true Northumberland spectacle…why not join us and revel in our heritage and culture…’Howay man, BOOK NOW, it’ll be a canny good weekend!’

One year in….’I never expected any of this!’

Heavenfield Cottage is nearly one! We opened for business on 17th November 2017 after a renovation which took about 10 months, although long before then, the idea, the thought, the vision, the plan was there, rattling around in our heads, and was the hot topic of conversation over our kitchen table for a couple of years. When we started our renovation project we had a pretty good idea of what lay ahead, we knew it would be hard work, we knew there would a lot of decisions to make and we knew we would undoubtedly learn loads along the way, and we did!

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Heavenfield Cottage in progress

We knew we’d need a lot of stuff but probably underestimated just how much it would take, particularly to get the cottage to the 5* standard we wanted, there were an awful lot of returns done! My long anticipated mood board was created….this was the exciting bit, as the dining table became a swamp of swatches, brochures, samples, price lists, and paint tester pots! There was shower gel and shampoo samples stacked up in the bathroom, all awaiting the ‘sniff test’ and the ‘lather test’! Our living room became filled with furniture, duvets, bedding, pots, pans, electricals, crockery and even patio furniture was crammed in there, as every delivery man in the area became a regular visitor. We expected it to be a challenge to get our website just right, and to find the right company to create the vision I had in my head. I wouldn’t even try to estimate how many hours I spent researching what we wanted, and how we would create our all important image. Booking systems and payment systems were totally confusing and it was massive learning curve, but again, although confusing, we had thought that it would be.

By the start of November we were finished, ready to be seen, ready to be assessed and ready for guests. The assessment brought us the 5* rating I so wanted and we couldn’t have been happier, and very relieved that our hard work had paid off. All we needed now, were those all important bookings! It happened, and we welcomed our first guests to Heavenfield Cottage in time for Christmas. That was it, we were up and running, the project was now a new business and it was beginning to work. Our first year has been, what I can only describe as amazing, we are so pleased, in fact completely thrilled with the results this year, we are so so pleased to have achieved the bookings that we have, and to have been fully booked from Spring through to…. well, now!

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Amazing comments from our guest book

So, why is this titled ‘I never expected any of this’? During the past year our ‘renovation project’ has become so much more than just a business, it has become my ‘thing’, and has brought about a new passion that I find difficult to describe. It has given me so much in such a short space of time. I never expected to feel the way I do when guests tell us how amazing they think the cottage is, or that the colours are lovely, or that the furnishings are tasteful, or ask where I got a certain piece. To hear ‘it’s the best we’ve ever stayed in’ and to be told ‘you’ve thought of absolutely everything’. I will never tire of hearing these comments, ever! When we receive a 10 out of 10, or a 5 Star or 5 bubble review, I am just so immensely pleased. I expected to enjoy our new business, but I never expected to love it this much, it occupies my every thought. I continually find myself thinking about what else I could do to enhance the stay for guests, how else can I market it, how can I improve the advertising, what other little touches could I make to ensure it feels special to everyone who stays. As odd as this sounds I actually love going in there on a changeover day and cleaning it. I have to ensure it looks new every time, and then to put in the finishing touches, the little sprays of flowers, the homemade goodies, the welcome card, making sure I’ve personalised the stay to the guests that are due to arrive.

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A personal welcome to Heavenfield Cottage for a new Mr & Mrs!

We have enjoyed meeting all of our guests, and I hadn’t really thought beforehand how much I would enjoy that part of it, just how nice is to meet people and to hear why they have come to St Oswald’s Farm and to Northumberland, to hear small snippets of their lives, and of course sharing our home and our way of life with them, albeit in a very small way for just a short time.One guest remark stands out for me, it was quite early on in our year and they arrived in the midst of a lot of snow to celebrate a weekend away for a special birthday! During their stay I asked them both if everything was OK, and this was the reply I received. ‘Oh yes it’s perfect, and that cake was amazing thank you, was it homemade?’ she then continued to say

“I was in that bath, with my glass of prosecco and eating that cake, and honest to God….. I’ve never been happier!”

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That bath!

I had never expected to get that sort of reaction or to have the ability to make that sort of difference to people, even if it is for only a few days. I truly enjoy making sure our guests have a great stay, and trying to think of ways to ensure their holiday or weekend break is all they want it to be, and in return they are giving me so much more than I ever imagined!

As we move into our second year, there is someone I need to thank, my husband John, who has not only trusted my judgement, but supported and helped make each decision, he’s kept me sane when I’ve wobbled and mostly he has allowed me to make it my own, he’s allowed it to be ‘my thing’, and in turn has allowed me to love what I’m doing and to feel a passion for what I’m doing, a passion to do well and to achieve the best I can…thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me this opportunity.

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Heavenfield Cottage ready for guests

So, if you’re wondering whether to pursue a new venture or to diversify to something you know little about, go for it, do your research, make your plans and make it happen, you might just get back a lot more than you ever thought possible! If you’d like to find out more about staying at St Oswald’s Farm and in Heavenfield Cottage please CLICK HERE I look forward to welcoming you here…I really do!