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MP rides bear-back as Berwick sculpture trail officially opened.

Today was the official opening of the wonderful sculpture trail here in Berwick’s Coronation Park. Local MP, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, joined the friends and families of the children who’d designed the eight-strong sculpture trail; the sculptor who realised the children’s designs – David Gross; Parks Development Officer, Kate Dixon; her team of volunteers – Friends of Castle Parks plus the local Cadets; and various local and county councillors. The sun shone!

The Berwick Bear

Anne-Marie Trevelyan atop ‘Bari’ the Berwick Bear


This chirpy chap is one of the eight sculptures designed by local schoolchildren and realised by sculptor David Gross.

The idea for the sculpture trail was hatched during the five-year HLF-funded project to regenerate and refurbish Coronation and Castle Vale Parks in Berwick – which will complete in June this year. It’s a fun, creative way to encourage more young people and families to enjoy the parks and take ownership of them. Funding came from utilities organisation, SUEZ, the Town Council and a private donor.

The mole

The mole, made of reclaimed walnut

The sculptures were installed in two batches, plus a one-off for the Berwick Bear which, by popular demand, has been dubbed ‘Bari’ – Berwick dialect for ‘really nice’. All the sculptures are made of reclaimed wood.

If you live in Berwick or are visiting, do take a wander in the parks. Coronation Park and Castle Vale Park fall either side of the station – you can walk between the two by road or by dropping down to the River Tweed, strolling along the riverside path – New Road – and walking up again.

A couple of dates for your diaries:

Saturday 2nd June 2018: Open Parks & Gardens, 11-4pm

Staff and volunteers will be in the parks to answer questions and sell you a leaflet (£3) to guide you around the various private gardens that will be open on the day – stretching from the YHA, to Bankhill, Castlegate, and Castle Terrace. Plants and refreshments will be available at various points. Donations will support the work of the Friends in the parks.

Saturday 23rd June 2018: Picnic in the Park, 12-4pm

A family picnic day in Coronation Park (no BBQs and well-behaved dogs on leads). Bring your picnic, enjoy the park, some live music, a community dance performance and children’s activities.

Bear and Cadets

Local Cadets with ‘Bari’, who they helped to install.




Take me outside into the green garden – but not one I have to look after!

If an Englishman’s home is his castle, then his garden is probably his tapestry or trophy room. And it’s the season to apply some spit and polish before show time. Tangles of shrubs and seed spikes left as overwinter shelter for insects, food for birds, and because November was a bit too busy to get out into the garden, have morphed into a straggly organic car crash. The moment has come to don the gardening gloves.

“Gardening is a ‘good thing’ and chimes nicely with a style of living which engages with the here-and-now”

Gardening is, of course, about embracing and responding to seasons. This is a ‘good thing’ and chimes nicely with a style of living which engages with the here-and-now rather than what can be had whenever you fancy it, whatever the cost. But gardening is like housework. No sooner have you dusted from top to bottom than it’s time to start all over again (insert ‘weeded’, ‘mowed’ or ‘pruned’ for ‘dusted’). Plus maintaining a garden is not always totally rewarding. My ambition to eat my own sprouts on Christmas Day was fulfilled in 2013 – with micro sprouts. My beetroot were hardly better and my leeks have spring-onion envy. I look at the allotments around Berwick with respect – I long for my garden to be packed with gorgeous produce, I long to be the sort of person who loves to toil the soil. But I am a reluctant gardener.

My uneasy relationship with gardening is not so unusual. New builds often don’t have much garden – not just because contractors want to squeeze as much infrastructure into a site as possible, but also because many of us simply don’t want the faff of looking after even a postage stamp of open space. Life’s too busy. Or perhaps we’re too nervous – we don’t know how to garden anymore. The times I’ve enjoyed gardening most have been when working alongside someone more knowledgeable than me – company and confidence rolled up in one.

My own garden in May - there's a lot to be done  if it's going to look like that this year!

My own garden in May – there’s a lot to be done if it’s going to look like that this year!

Step up the public open space. I can’t tell you how excited I am about all the work going on in Berwick: from Castle Vale and Coroner’s Park by the station, to the lily pond and refurbed route to the river from Tweed Street, to the cutting back and tidying beside and beneath Meg’s Mount. It’s an initiative spearheaded through County Council’s Strategic Parks project. Berwick’s slice of the pie (just shy of a million quid) is largely funded by a Lottery grant.

What a view! Coronation Park in Berwick-upon-Tweed all ready for planting at the end of March 2014.  (photo

Kate Morison, manager of the parks project, traces the decline of these fondly remembered areas to funding cuts. And now, the regular zoom-through of the County green squad to cut grass and hack shrubs simply can’t match up to the heyday when there were two permanent park keepers in Berwick. Kate was born and bred in Berwick and is pleased to be back. She has high hopes for the parks – decent signage, programmes of events, people whiling away happy moments waiting for trains or simply enjoying the breathtaking views. The more these marvellous places are used, the more vibrant they’ll be – and stay. If you’ve not admired the shiny pin kerbs, or the nascent rockeries, the tidied shelter areas and the gorgeous new steps, get to it!

A band of willing volunteers is essential to the long-term maintenance of the rejuvenated spaces. Kate’s wired into all the right networks (including CARA – Castlegate Residents Association – who’ve been hands-on since the beginning). And it won’t be long before these eager public-spirited gardeners can get down to it – the contractors set sail at the end of the month. If you’re interested, contact Kate through the Council offices on Quayside.

Meanwhile, if you’re keen and confident and would like a bit of gardening practice, I can offer a garden in desperate need of tlc, some companionship, and a half decent cup of tea!

A version of this article was published in the Berwick Advertiser

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