November 16, 2008

Bellingham's Noble Street Kids: Rabbitin

Northumberland Farming History - a village childhood remembered.

By Clive Dalton

The two oak trees on the boundary between the Breckons’s and the Demesne fells were an important part of our play. Some of the older lads had put big nails in the trunk of one tree so we could climb into the branches, again to watch for “the enemy”.

The biggest hazard was rippin the arse oot of your breeks on a branch or nail when making your rapid exit or overbalancing. Then you were in deep trouble.

The sod cast along the boundary between both farms was always alive with rabbits which we used to try and snare, hoping that Jack or Bob Beattie didn’t catch us at it.

You could buy snares at the Northern Farmers next to the Police station (a place to be wary of with Sergeant Geordie Fell who viewed us all as potential trouble).

The trouble was that Sgt Fell had his private residence in the bungalow at the end of Percy Terrace, so was just a bit too near our operations. And were could never be sure whether he was aware of poem somebody in the village must have composed about him.

The funny thing was that although poetry we learned at school was always at struggle to remember, we all seemed to have instant recall of this bit of doggerel after first hearing it.

Geordie Fell went to hell
And shit amang the dockins
The wind blew, the skitta flew
And dortied aall his stockins

We would either put the snares around the entrance to the rabbit hole or just out from the entrance on an obvious track. You had to identify the spot where the rabbit had paused on this run, and then made a hop to its next resting stop. The theory was that if you put the snare at that precise spot, the rabbit would hop through and Bingo he was yours to gut then skin. Too often you’d catch an old “milky doe” which was not attractive eating.

Photo: The Bellingham Police Sergeant in 1954 - NOT Geordie Fell!
Contact me if you can remember his name!

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