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Wendy Bond: “Seek out local food. Taste the landscape as well as walk it”

Other posts by  |  Sheelagh Caygill on Google+ |  November 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

Wendy Bond © Tony Iley, Hexham Courant

Wendy Bond oversees Hadrian’s Wall Farmers’ Market at Greenhead.

She lives at Glenwhelt, Greenhead, and has helped make the market environmentally friendly. Local producers make top quality sustainably produced food, and stall holders only issue plastic bags when they are requested.

The market is famed for its amazing range of rare breed beef, lamb and pork, much of it organic, as well as free range chickens, game and occasionally farmed venison, reared and prepared in Cumbria, Northumberland and southern Scotland.

It has organic vegetables and many other products too. Wendy has also spearheaded the creation of a sustainable energy group in Haltwhistle. Here Wendy gives readers some insight into why she enjoys living in Northumberland and shares some of its best kept secrets.

How long have you lived in Northumberland?: I’ve lived in Northumberland for almost 40 years and couldn’t contemplate living anywhere else now.

What is it about the county that appeals to you? I love the variety, the people and the weather, believe it or not.  We seem to have our own excellent micro-climate, unknown to the Met Office, here in Greenhead.  There are lots of things to do but in between there is peace and space to breathe.

What’s your favourite Northumberland beauty spot?  The twisty roads between the Tipalt and the South Tyne valleys are irresistible, as are the walks in that area.

Do you have a favourite walk?  The new walk our community created from Thirlwall castle beside the Tipalt and up to the moors and Hadrian’s Wall still feels as if one is exploring for the first time a secret valley.

The list of places to visit is endless. But some are more special than others. A trip to Northumberland wouldn’t be complete without….?:  Finding the 18th century Quaker chapel near Wolf Hills, nestling in a small wood and complete with tiny gravestones.  The deserted fells suddenly become peopled again and one starts to notice some of the many other signs from our more populous past – converted chapels and schools, old coal pits, etc.

Is locally produced Northumbrian food the best?: It’s superb and can be found every month on the second Sunday at the Hadrian’s Wall Farmers’ Market at Greenhead – organic beef, properly hung for three weeks, mutton and lamb; free range pork and sausages (the producer lives right on the Roman Wall and some of the sausages are made to a Roman recipe); organic sweet Ayrshire cheese; organic vegetables; home baked breads; delicious mustards, jams, honeys and chutneys and farmhouse pies and scones.

Anyone coming to a selfcatering holiday in Northumberland would be well advised to seek out our local food – at a farmers’ market, a farm shop or a local grocer – rather than bring supermarket stuff with them from home. Taste the landscape as well as walk it and gaze at it.

Do you have a preferred place to eat out in the county and why?: I enjoy my Sunday dinner at the Greenhead Hotel – with local beers to choose from, too.

Northumbrians are renowned for the warm welcome they offer holidaymakers and day trippers alike. What do you think is the secret ingredient for this friendliness?: We’ve learnt a few priorities over the lean decades – and they don’t include fussing over the latest gizmo. We value family and friends and good conversation and fresh air and traditions, and expect to find our visitors interesting people.

Coast or country?: I love them both – Holy Island is a magic place, but we have much diversity of hills, fells and valleys to enjoy, too.

Your favourite historical site?: I like the comical milecastle in the central section of Hadrian’s Wall, built to the standard issue plan for milecastles with a massive north gate for the cavalry to dash out of to deal with any signs of attack from that direction – only there’s a sheer cliff right outside it!  Military bureaucracy at its daftest.  You’ll have to walk the Wall yourself to find it.

And the best road to take a leisurely and scenic drive along?:  Any of the roads from Haltwhistle to Whitfield and follow your nose from there.  Alternatively, the road from the Military Road up to Bellingham when the cherry blossom is out on the trees.

What would be your perfect day out in Northumberland?: Pottering beside the South Tyne with paints and a sketch book from Featherstone Castle, southwards.

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Category: Northumberland Best Kept Secrets

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