Today I was very excited to visit the Newbrough Youth Club again, as they showcased what they’d learned about their local legend, Meggie the Witch, at a lovely little village fete in The Old School Dining Hall in Newbrough – which I think belonged, once upon a time, to the Newbrough Girls’ School. You might recall that back in September I did a chat with the children about Meggie and about how I had fictionalised her in Memory of Snow, and we had a great time discussing witch trials and black cats and how witch finders used sticks with retractable pins in them to see if an accused person really was a witch or not. All this and more came out of their Meggie presentation and it was lovely to see how they’d decided that ‘their’ Meggie was a nice person who wasn’t really a witch, just somebody who knew a lot about nature.
As part of their Groundworks Project, the children visited the site of Meggie’s house and the site of her grave, along with the Mithraic Temple near Coventina’s Well and Brocolitia Fort, which are all right beside Meggie’s Dene Burn – one of my favourite places on Hadrian’s Wall. They also did besom broom making, lavender bag making, willow wand weaving and some work at Dilston Physic Garden where they learned about herbal potions and made honey lip balm and blackberry cough syrup. I had a great time at the Fayre, and it didn’t take me long to home in on the cakes and coffee. I could wax lyrical about the baking, but suffice it to say I very much enjoyed a wedge of cake while I watched a slideshow of the project, and chatted about willow weaving as a willow ‘Meg’ took shape before my eyes. Willow Meg is going on tour around the village and she will end up at the school, where she’ll stay for generations to come as her legacy lives on and more and more children learn about her as the Youth Club continue to share their ideas and information about her – which I think is wonderful, and I’m sure the real Meg would agree.
I also had the chance to buy a raffle ticket for a cake, enter another competition to win another cake (how marvellous if I should win both!), buy a lavender bag and some cough syrup, try freshly pressed apple juice (which was squeezed by one of the boys as I watched) – and get my nails done by one of the girls. I now have very blingy and very fabulous gold nails; and Meggie would absolutely love those as well, I’m certain!
I have to give a massive shout out to Laura from Groundworks and Caro and Jane from the youth club, as well as all the children and adults who belong to and support the group. It was a huge pleasure and an undeniable privilege to be involved in the project, and I wish you lots of success and happy times for the future in your new premises at the Town Hall!
Thank you all again x