During the last twelve months Durham Guild has been responding to an invitation to demonstrate at Saltholme, a fairly new wildlife and nature reserve just north of Middlesbrough. The building stands on a very large expanse of flat barren land.
There is a lake with small islands for wild fowl and an artificial cliff specially built as a nesting site for sand martins, and a small, intimate walled garden planted with flowers in a most innovative, attractive way, interspersed with dead trees.
A large area with walk boards over ponds is unfortunately reserved for school parties, and an adventure play ground with swings etc. Somewhere in the distance are fields where cows and sheep can be seen grazing.
The building is an airy structure with, on the ground floor, a well stocked shop geared for walkers/ birdwatchers and children, (of course!) and a good size classroom with tables and chairs facing the lake. Above it on the first floor, with panoramic windows overlooking the lake is a nice restaurant offering a reasonable choice which all looks good.
The Guild seems to have been asked to demonstrate specifically at lambing time and shearing time. We are free to organise the room as we wish, usually setting up some tables to display the work and others for the equipment. The attendants at the centre are all very friendly and ready to oblige any request, and we are provided with refreshments and lunch.
On this occasion some 5 or 6 just sheared fleeces had already been brought in for members to take home and a few more appeared during the day. It is nice to see parents encouraging their child(ren) to look and take an interest. Children are fascinated by spinning and will stand and watch, longing to have a go but rarely do.
Guild members always enjoy their days at Saltholme and it is well worth visiting throughout the year.