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Steve’s Nature Diary

This year has been a good one for butterflies and I have managed to see a few species in my garden including Speckled Wood and Holly Blue. Also making an appearance has been one of the larger moths, which although not very exciting, is good to see, the Silver-Y (Autographa gamma). It is an interesting species because it is a migrant moth and in the right conditions can appear anywhere in Britain.

In autumn, the breeding population from spring migrants is swelled by further migration. It has a wingspan of around 35-40 mm and when at rest, the Silver-Y holds its wings back along its body in a tent-like shape. The wings are patterned with dark grey, silver and brown, and display a characteristic silver, Y-shaped mark on the forewings which helps to aid identification. It flies by day and night and I have seen the swift flying adults nectaring on lavender both by day and just before dusk. Each year the Silver-Y head north from North Africa and Europe to colonise new habitats. The caterpillars feed on a wide variety of plants, including Stinging Nettles, clover and cabbages. It breeds here, but the early stages cannot survive our winter.

Other migrants that might accompany these moths include Marmalade Flies and 7-spot Ladybirds, smaller numbers of Clouded Yellow butterflies and Humming-bird Hawk-moths. The latter has been seen in several locations in the Tees Valley recently but not in my garden yet! If October is mild, there may be still a number of day flying moths to be seen. There are about 2,500 moth species found in Britain and Ireland, traditionally separated into about 900 larger moths (macro-moths) and the rest being the smaller or micro-moths. 60 or so macro-moths are naturally active during the daytime, some of which are often mistaken for butterflies. I think moths are some of the most interestingly named species on the planet and still on the wing in Autumn in the north and Scotland you might see the Vapourer, Treble Bar, Shaded Broad-bar and with the best name of all the Manchester Treble-bar (I am a Lancastrian!). There is even a moth called the September Thorn! You can find a useful guide to day flying moths at mothscount.org

To attract butterflies and moths into your garden you need to plant nectar-rich borders for them to feed along and climbing Ivy and shrubs for overwintering insects. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit the Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the Wildlife Trust and the RHS. It will give you plenty of facts and tips to get you started.


Change at Sedgefield News

Sandy Clubley, who has been with Sedgefield News since December 2002, will retire as Editor with effect from the end of 2018. As a Trustee of Sedgefield Development Trust, Sandy will retain an interest in the News, and will continue to manage the advertising for a while. The current team is blossoming, and gaining both skills and confidence, but it may need to be supplemented in the New Year. If you are talented in design & layout, or interested in the general management of a local paper, we would love to hear from you. The work is voluntary, although you will receive technical support expenses if needed. Our contact details are on page 2. Discussions are ongoing about how we can meet the technical and financial challenge of the next few years. It promises to be an exciting time to join the Sedgefield News Team!


On August bank holiday weekend, a group consisting of Chris, Angus & Tom Hearmon, Mark & Beth Raine, Pete & Grace King, Chris, Catherine, Ciaran, Charlie & Samuel Lines, Gary & Amanda Hetherington, Jonathan, Susan, Kate & Laura Wallace, Lesley & Nick Dexter, Phil Houghton and Alda Hummelinck - along with friends and family - travelled to our twin town, Hamminkeln.

For some, it was our third visit to the German town to take part in its annual Citylauf, which this year celebrated its 40th anniversary! It is a very well organised race - each time with great weather - and we are made to feel so very welcome. It is so nice to see our host families, and Hermann Terhorst and the other Citylauf organisers again, that we keep wanting to go back!

This time, we visited the Humberghaus in Dingden, the Archeological Park in Xanten, and of course the Biermeile (beer mile festival) where we finally saw proof that the local Hamminkelner beer makes us run faster! Both Mark and Pete achieved personal bests the next day at the Citylauf 10k race, and Gary and Chris Hearmon finished in the top three for their age category. Ciaran Lines finished second in the Under 18 category and 11th overall in the 5k race but, at 15 years of age, had not been powered by the superbeer! Just imagine how fast he’ll run when he’s old enough to drink the stuff! Six-year-old Samuel finished 22nd in the children’s 400m.

We look back on another fantastic weekend and, by the time this goes to press, we will have welcomed a group of Hamminkeln SV runners and Citylauf organisers, when they return to Sedgefield to take part in our parkrun and the Harriers’ annual Serpentine race on Sunday 16 September!

Alda Hummelinck

Special Town Council Meeting

At a special meeting open to the public, representatives of Hellens Group presented to the Town Council their plans for the 30 acre piece of land between Beacon Lane and Butterwick Road, which they have recently purchased.

Hellens was established in 1973 and is still a family business, based in Washington. It started in the regeneration of brownfield sites and has moved into sports and recreation facility construction, land and property development and investment as well as manufacturing of hard landscaping products for the building industry. In the last 5 years it has become government registered as an affordable housing provider and has built or purchased affordable housing in Carlton, Coxhoe, Trimdon Colliery, Wheatley Hill, Yarm and Wynyard to name but a few. Houses are provided on a range of financial products including for rent (at 20% less than market rent), rent to buy and shared ownership. Houses are diverse and include starter homes and bungalows, depending on the local need.

The 30 acre site if fully developed could support 300 houses. However there are significant parts that cannot be developed due to the local landscape and ecology. Therefore numbers are more likely to be 200-250 homes, with significant landscaping retained or enhanced. However Hellens have no immediate plans to develop the site. They have made representations to Durham County Council as part of the Local Plan process and over the next 6 months will go through the pre-application process to test with DCC as to what would be allowable. Subject to that feedback a planning application would be submitted in the next 3-5 years. They are well aware of the Neighbourhood Plan and know that this site is not in that plan or the draft Local Plan. The company is interested in developing in Sedgefield as they had the opportunity to buy land that is well related to the village; the village is sustainable; and they believe that there is demand for affordable homes in the area.

Councillors raised concerns that further housing would put further pressure on the overstretched services and facilities in the village such as the schools, GP surgery, roads and parking. It was also pointed out that this site was the least popular in the local consultation. However there were favourable comments about the affordable housing model that Hellens operate, in particular the local lettings policy and robust checking of tenants. There was disappointment that this model hadn't come forward sooner in the Neighbourhood Plan process and on a different site. Hellens has confirmed that they will return to the Town Council once they have been through the Pre-application process with Durham County Council and will at that stage consult with local residents. A case of watch this space.


Raising money for the World Jamboree

St Edmund’s Explorer Unit (Sedgefield) are hosting a Coffee Morning to raise funds for the unit, and for the World Scout Jamboree 2019 in West Virginia, America. The morning will offer hot drinks, bacon sandwiches and cakes, as well as a raffle and other games. It will take place at Sedgefield Scout Hall, West End on the 20th October, from 9:30 until 11:30. Please come along and support our fund raising efforts. Thanks, Adam White & Tom Hearmon


Sedgefield Ranger Unit is launched

15 girl guides have now formed a new Ranger unit in Sedgefield, for girls aged 14 –18. The girls have all gained the highest award for under 14s, the Baden-Powell Challenge Award, which was presented to them by Jackie Postgate.

They were also presented with Rangers start up packs by members of Sedgefield Trefoil Guild. Thanks were extended to the Guide Leaders of Sedgefield for giving the girls such a rewarding time in their meetings and providing such a varied programme. The girls have now chosen to work on their Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and we wish them all the very best.

Jackie Postgate MBE. Trefoil Chair, Sedgefield

Sedgefield Ploggers

Well, here’s a fabulous idea, and one that we’re sure everyone will welcome, and credit to Chris Lines for bringing it home from where it originated.

'Plogging' is a Swedish eco-friendly fitness trend with twin aims - less litter, more fitness. Simple! The first event may have happened by the time you read this - it is scheduled for September 28th at 5pm - but the idea is to meet up at the turning circle in front of the church, and take a gentle half hour jog around town, picking up litter as you go. Anyone can join in: gloves and bags will be provided. Watch this space - or email sedgefieldploggers@gmail.com


Spoilt for Choice

The News has been out and about this month, checking out two of the village’s newest social venues, The Pickled Parson and The Corner House. Run by the same owners, the two pubs could not be more different in facilities, décor and tone; hardly surprising, as they clearly target different markets.

Situated in the heart of the village, The Pickled Parson (right) makes the most of the open areas close by. A stable effect door opens out of the side of the building facing the church and can be used to serve customers in the outside seating or simply relaxing on the village green. Indoors, the pub is half bar, half restaurant – a gastro pub - with food available at breakfast and lunch time daily and through the evening Monday to Saturday.

The footprint of the building has not changed since its days as The Crosshill Hotel, so it’s not wholly surprising that the bar area is still recognisably the same space; the striking change being that the serving counter is now a long thin area to your right as you enter. The area originally housing the old bar has been stylishly redesigned. The main space in this area now comprises a range of seating places to accommodate groups of different sizes. It is complemented by a more cloistered area in which small groups of diners can eat more privately while not being totally separated from the room. The low ceiling and the darker décor lends itself to a quieter, more low-key atmosphere which might be just what you need if you want to have a more private chat or to merely enjoy each other’s company. On the down side the drinks are pricey. Good thing or bad thing? The way you answer that question will, no doubt, determine whether you visit to see for yourself.

The proverbial stone’s throw over the road, The Corner House offers a different kind of experience for families and young people alike. Facilities inside include a pool table, a shuffleboard and four TV screens for sports broadcasts. One of the areas offers games, with some peripheral seating; the second (the old Black Lion bar) has a clear space for people to stand and mingle on a busy night with peripheral seating and two TV screens; and the third has a number of tables and chairs allowing a little more comfort while viewing the screen situated in that space.

Stepping out of this area, the open courtyard is clean and well lit with seating, some of which is covered. Further on is the new Beer Garden. This large, astro-turfed space is equipped with a number of play facilities as well as screens for sports viewing; a large one for special outdoor screenings as well as smaller ones in each of the cabins around the edge of the area. In addition to these two outdoor areas, customers can be seen socialising on the outdoor seating at the front of the property on summer days and evenings. The Corner House has a bar food menu which, judging by feedback on the Facebook page, is up there with the beer garden in terms of favourable comments. One feature of note to passers by is the use of door security staff. Young people I have spoken to about this are generally in favour of this innovation. Apart from fairly common misgivings about authority figures, the general opinion I have heard from younger customers is that their very visibility has helped to create a less rowdy tone which allows the lively, social aspects of the bar to flourish.

Whichever experience appeals to you the most, there seems no doubt that these two pubs are making positive contributions to the improving Sedgefield social scene.

Tony Magee’s investigations of Sedgefield’s changing social scene will continue in future editions. Your comments (polite, of course!) are welcome too. Please include your name & address. Just let us know if you prefer not to have your name printed.